On Monday, November 26th, Dictionary.com unveiled “misinformation” as 2018’s Word of the Year—and it’s a depressing sign of the times. Misinformation was deliberately chosen over “disinformation,” said Dictionary’s linguist-in-residence, Jane Solomon, and the choice is intended to serve as a “call to action.”
Solomon said that the public’s “relationship with truth” was at the root of the majority of the site’s top searches. Other buzzwords of 2018 were “mainstream,” “white lie” (in regard to former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks admitting she told “a few” for the president), and “Orwellian” (after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused the Chinese government of “Orwellian nonsense”).
She explained that disinformation, defined as “deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts, propaganda,” is an external examination of others’ behavior and causes finger-pointing. Spreading misinformation, on the other hand, can be an internal struggle, and our awareness of its meaning can help us reevaluate our own behavior.
Dictionary.com’s choice may be a downer, but it’s also a critical reminder to do our research and ensure we know the facts before we click that “share” button.