Lookups for this word have increased nearly 300% this year — at the same time that our well-being is falling
Most of us are complicit in having dark thoughts about the state of America.
The word “complicit” — defined as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others” — is Dictionary.com’s word of the year. That’s thanks in part to the fact that lookups for the word increased by nearly 300% in 2017 as compared to 2016. (Past words of the year have included xenophobia in 2016 and identity in 2015.)
There is “a direct correlation between trending word lookups and current events,” says Liz McMillan, CEO of Dictionary.com. And “complicit” applied to many negative current events this year, Dictionary.com noted, including “investigations of potential ties between the current US presidential administration and Russia, a barrage of natural and manmade disasters, widespread allegations of sexual assault and harassment, and the devastating effects of both mass shootings and the opioid epidemic.”
This kind of bad news has barraged Americans this year — and some of that news may contribute to the fact that well-being is down in America. Indeed, as Moneyish reported last week, overall well-being fell for Americans in 2017, after having risen for the prior two years. All the reasons for this are uncertain, but Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index told Moneyish that “this strongly shows ‘a Trump effect.’” Indeed, well-being fell most for Democrats, women and many minorities — groups that tended to vote Clinton– and that may be pulling down the overall score.
What’s more, this comes at a time when Americans are devouring the news more than ever — for example, both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal (which is owned by the same parent company as Moneyish) have seen huge subscriber growth this year — and lots of negative news can decrease our well being. British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey, who did research on the topic, noted that “viewing negative news means that you’re likely to see your own personal worries as more threatening and severe, and when you do start worrying about them, you’re more likely to find your worry difficult to control and more distressing than it would normally be.”
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