Gaslighting: Who is Affected by This Issue? Was it Always an Issue or Did Social Media Make it One?

You may have heard of the term Gaslighting but what is the true definition? It is a form of manipulation where someone tries to control a victim by twisting their sense of reality. It is mainly seen in abusive relationships and where the abuser misleads the target, creating a false narrative and making them question their judgments. 

According to NBC News, the term Gaslighting comes from a 1938 play called “Gas Light”. In the play, a husband manipulates his wife to make her think she’s losing her sense of reality so he can commit her to a mental institution and steal her inheritance. This is a prime example of being in a mentally abusive relationship where you are being manipulated into thinking something that is false.

If you have been on social media recently you may have seen the way relationships have changed. This generation has normalized being in abusive and toxic relationships. It has become a trend or a “flex” to be a cheater, liar, manipulative, and mentally abusive. It has become normal to call yourself toxic and have toxic relationships with people.  

Social media platforms like Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where people can talk freely have made issues like gaslighting a big deal. Accounts like Theshaderoom on Instagram are constantly talking about the things that people face and I have seen some crazy stories.  

I think this affects young adults and teenagers the most. It changes the way they look at relationships. They will think that it is okay to be in situations where they are being treated this way or even be the manipulator. They will grow up following the same tendencies and will never break the cycle.  

Although social media is a big contributor to the reason people act this way, it also sheds light on these issues. It makes people realize how they may have been gaslighted in the past and opens their eyes. It also helps people lookout for red flags to avoid being in an abusive relationship. 

I have personally seen a few of my friends in a relationship with manipulative people and have seen how they were being gaslighted. This issue is something that is serious and can harm someone’s mental health. The victim begins to feel like they’re delusional and have their feelings invalidated. They are constantly second-guessing themselves and start to feel guilty for feeling the way they did. 

Gaslighting may not always be intentional. The main reason people gaslight is because they have seen or experienced it from a parent. This is why gaslighting can be considered a defense mechanism. The person who is gaslighting without bad intent is often doing it to try to defend themselves from feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

Unconscious gaslighting usually happens while a victim is undergoing trauma, such as physical, sexual, or verbal abuse. The victim often needs approval and validation and quickly feels guilty, unworthy, and rejected when the perpetrator disapproves of them and their behavior. 

No one talks about the long-term effects of being in an abusive situation like this. It can cause you trauma, anxiety, and depression. Some gaslighters even try to get the victim to stop talking to their friends and family. They make sure that they are alone and by themselves so they have no one to go to. 

Some red flags to look for when you think you are being gaslighted is when they say things like “ you’re too sensitive” or “you’re overreacting”. They also like to tell you that you’re crazy and tell you how to feel. Another red flag is when they deny things that they have said or done. They will get defensive and say anything to try to make you second guess yourself. 

A real-life example of this was when a friend of mine caught her boyfriend in a lie. When she confronted him about it he began to tell her that she was delusional and that he never said the things he did say. He made her believe that she was overthinking the situation too much which led her to believe the things she did. 

If you or anyone you know may be going through this just know you deserve to get out. Put yourself first and leave those toxic situations. Look for the signs and the red flags. Do not be afraid to reach out to the people who care about you for advice. Sometimes friends and family are the only people who you have. 

Alyssa Ramsawak

My name is Alyssa Ramsawak and I am a 17-year-old high school senior from Queens, New York. I play volleyball, the guitar and I love to listen to music. I like being around my friends and people who make me happy. I began journaling my feelings to help me on my path to healing during quarantine and it has become a hobby ever since. Journaling is something that was very helpful to me because somehow it was much easier to write down my feelings rather than to speak about it. Writing helped me express myself and through writing I found peace.