With 2019 taking over, agendas all over the world read “new year resolutions”. People seem to have their eyes set forward and there’s nothing wrong with that, we all want to sail our ship successfully  Never the less, to sail this ship, we must know where the water flows, and to to that, we must gaze straight into the past.

In toxic waters

The XXI century world is interconnected thanks to the well known globalization, and with social media and the news at the top of the global interest, words used in our media have converted themselves into the water of the river; they have become a chance for a mass “psychoanalysis”.

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By mass we mean a significangt insight towards where we are going and what we are thinking; speaking in world wide as well as cultural terms. And as it turns out, we are sailing in Toxic waters.

Yes, toxic, that’s the word of the long gone 2018. It was chosen by the Oxford dictionary due to the fact that it registered an increase of 45% in the number of times it was googled online in regard with past years. According to this same dictionary, the adjective toxic means “poisonous”, “disgusting” or “harmfull”.

Now, why is the word of the year chosen? Well, this word is evaluated in order to determine the ethos (or mood and preoccupations) of the year. As Oxford specifies, the term caries with itself important cultural implications for the upcoming year.

Naturally, at the beginning, toxic was being mainly used to describe something literally poisonous (mostly referring to environmental topics). Soon enough, and thanks to the wide variety of terms that can easily suit the adjective toxic, the word was soon seen in the spotlight of issues regarding human relationships, politics and even tide pods.

Taking over the media

Now, lets take a look at the terms that along with toxic, took over the media.

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Toxic masculinity. This was one of the most important concepts of 2018 and, according to Wikipedia, toxic masculinity refers to “the socially built attitudes that describe a man’s role as violent, non-emotional, and sexually aggressive”.

Said attitudes are largely today’s cause of different crimes such as bullying or molestion, rape or sexism. Just like that, they are also the workforce behind the common fear of expression and vulnerability that now days hunts so many man. Clearly, not only women have it hard.

Alongside with other words like feminism (word of 2017), patriarchy, freedom and revolution, toxic masculinity now joins the list of the many revolutioanry socio-cultural moves which the world has witnessed.

In relation to the above, in January 2019, the world-renowned Gillette razor brand launched its “we believe” commercial, in which denounces precisely the attitudes associated with this concept. Currently, the video has gone viral and is raging all over the world. And although many consider it a hit, the commercial has seen the bad side with more than 250,000 “thumbs down” on YouTube shortly after being published.

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The reactions

Experts believe that this strong reaction is due to the fact that the announcement constitutes a huge shift in the way that Gillette previously promoted their razors, and that has surprised people. For many, this was offensive and people thought that Gillette was expressing that masculinity is synonymous of fragility (and they were offended), when in reality the add is a modern message regarding freedom of expression and social responsibility.

Another term of social connotation that dominated this year is toxic relationship. The interesting thing about this concept is that it ́s not limited to a romantic relationship, but it rather extends to family relationships, friends and even the work enviromoent.

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Toxic relationship and toxic masculinity, can be easily considered as part of the motivations of many of the social movements that today take over the networks with hashtags and over the streets with protests. In addition, it’s easy to see their significant correlation. As time passes by, we become witnesess of less and less tolerance towards abuses, harassment or stereotypes applied to both sexes by patriarchy.

Thus, it seems that our society is heading steadily towards respect, equality, diversification and awareness. An absolutely introspective look.

Finally, let’s talk about what cannot be missing when in terms of toxicity we speak: the environment. The adjective toxic repeatedly accompanied the following words: gas, chemical, substance, environment, waste, algae and air. Out of all of them being chemical the most listed as a companion for toxic, according to the Oxford dictionary.

And this abundance of words can easily trick us into seeing them as many diffenrent cases, they are all one (more or less): toxic chemicals generate toxic substances and these, become toxic waste that once burned generates toxic gases and toxic air. Toxically speaking, it is not a surprise that the outcome of the chain is a totally noxious environment and a thousand concerns for our health.

But action has been taken, in India, for example, sanctions have been imposed on companies that produce huge amounts toxic waste. And on the other side of the world, the United States is trying to fight the spread of toxic substances with various policies (especially with the rise of hurricanes).

Devastating ending

As we said before, the impacts of these substances not only take over our health, but also over our ecosystems. This was the case of the toxic algae disaster in Florida: in the Okeechobee River, the water has stopped being liquid and has become slime. Yes, slime.

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As it turns out, the fertilizers used for agricultural purposes leaked into the river causing an alarming growth of the algae in the water. As the high contents of the mucos could not be dissolved, it was soon released in the sea. The impact was devastating. Like an oil slick, the Floridian slime was responsible for covering taps in Florida as well as suffocating dolphins; turning out as a social, environmental and economic disaster ( apparently tourists do not want to see asphyxiated dolphins).

With everything said, it is impossible to cover up your eyes to the importance of the word toxic. And because its incredibly wide range of uses, it would be pitiful that this adjective looses the true gravity of its significance and begins to be taken lightly. Taking from social stereotypes to environmental disasters, the word of 2018 toxic shapes up as the omen of 2019.

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