Have we taken the word toxic too far?

ahh the latest buzzword, if you haven’t heard it yet, you probably live under a rock.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people use this term to describe every situation. Did you hear how my friend Brenda tattle-taled to the teacher about Cindy stealing an extra ice cream at lunch? Woah, Brenda’s so toxic, messing up our vibes.
And I want you to remember that example, it will become important later.
Now, I want to stress that there are absolutely very serious situations that I 100% agree are toxic–abuse, rape, cases such as these are absolutely to be avoided. There are also triggers for certain people where I understand the term for toxic specific to that person, though I may not understand how the term came to be used that way; and this is closer to the issue I want to address.
I think the most common time I am frustrated by this is when someone is a little smothering, and the person being smothered needs to practice self care, and labels their smotherer as toxic in the process. Because you see, in this, we fail to see the nature of the problem, that most likely the reason the “smotherer” is “toxic” is from too many people calling him “toxic” and too many people rejecting him, when in reality, he actually is a decent person with a good heart, who just doesn’t understand space and boundaries. and so by labeling this person as toxic, we have created or expanded his already poisonous gas; and failed to clean up the pollution. Am I suggesting that you put up with the smothering? No, not necessarily. I am honestly not sure what the best answer would be…I think every situation is different, but the person we label toxic probably already has enough self-defeating voices going on in their head.
Now let’s look at the other side of toxic…when the people who use the word “toxic” are the ones being toxic. Remember the example I gave? Cindy stole ice cream, but Brenda’s the one being labeled toxic because she snitched. But we could just as easily say Cindy is toxic for stealing. I see this sort of use of toxic all the time, and it annoys me to no end. While one person is practicing what they call self care by removing themself from a toxic situation, it is very possible they have done so in a very toxic and traumatizing way, such as abandoning a friend or loved one, thereby in the process not only being toxic, but also traumatizing and devastating a life, quite possibly only creating and/or enabling the very toxicity they hoped to escape, when it is very possible the victim may never have even been toxic in the first place.
Do you think we are going to far with the toxic comments? Do we need to make changes, and if so, how? Have you ever been called toxic or have you ever called anyone else toxic? comment below because I would love to hear these stories.


This is exactly why relationships are so delicate and so incredibly hard and difficult. Also why communication is the best thing to try to work through issues. Unfortunately, talking works best when both parties are willing to listen and to understand the other’s point of view.

Removing yourself from a situation that is detrimental to your own personal wellbeing is crucial and I am hesitant to ever suggest that is wrong. Sure, sometimes it can be abrupt and “out of the blue” to the other party. This is why I’d hope there was a last talk or message if possible, so there is the acknowledgment of : “yes I am taking a break/removing myself from this for my own wellbeing, that is the reason. I wish you well”.

There can be so much hurt caused in a relationship, and so much misunderstanding. Yes it is possible that the “toxic” person is trying to understand boundaries and space, and they may already have internal voices that call them horrible names. This is why I suggest talking through these things here. What that person may not have the time or the ability to express, it could be explored here safely. We are each responsible for taking the best care we can of ourselves, and that includes listening to feedback on our own shortcomings.

For example, if a lot of different people in different relationships with someone use the label toxic, then it really might be time to sit and reflect on which of your behaviours are getting this response. Not saying that the person is indeed “toxic” but maybe that strategy/ coping mechanism/ reaction is not getting a positive reaction and should be looked at.


Being a gamer and twitch moderator, toxic means something different to me. Toxic is when someone comes into a chat room and talks shit. They cause problems and start fights. It’s when during a multiplayer video game someone breaks the “rules” and causes negativity. It’s when someone on Twitter spreads rumors or causes arguments or harasses/stalks someone.

That’s being toxic.


I would pretty much agree this behavior is toxic, however i would put this under the first category where it is something that is widely regarded as not only toxic, but maybe even illegal (in particular the stalking). But there is a more appropriate word for the twitch person–trolls. Generally, they are specifically there to annoy you. The only thing I would say here is that there is a vast amount of difference between a stranger coming as a nuisance vs. A long term close relationship.
Also, hello fellow Twitch user! I’m pretty new here so idk if theres dm’s and my internet is bad so im using my phone so I cant see if there are, but if there is dm feel free to dm me a link to your twitch if you want.

I pretty much agree the main issue with the whole toxic topic is lack of communication. There are so many times where a person is unaware their behavior is affecting someone else, and in most cases, all it takes is a talk. The only way to clean up toxic pollution is by cleaning the environment, but you cant clean pollution without knowing how it was polluted in the first place. Personally ive been labeled toxic numerous times, but more often than not, nobody can actually tell me what the issue was. You cant get healthy if nobody can diagnose your sickness. I guess this why the word bothers me so much.

1 Like

It can be frustrated to be told a label and not know exactly what it means. However, you can take that information and re-frame it more constructively. Was it in the same context when people used the term? Do they know you well enough for their comment to matter or have weight, ie is there any insight they may have?

If you think that they may be on to something, then you have to analyze the situation, your reactions, their reactions etc. If it is distressing you, then it is wise to talk to someone about it, we’re happy to help and support as we can.

It would be nice for them to give you more info, but sometimes for self-preservation, people exit the conversation if they think someone is being toxic. Only you know all the circumstance, so some self introspection might be required. Eg is it during games online? School or work projects? relationships? Hope this can help you take that label and hold it away from yourself and look at it objectively, and see if there is any validity to it, or if these people were just throwing around a trendy term and being silly.


Generally speaking I just think the phrase bothers me. In any event, I dont think anyone has ever called me “toxic,” though I have been called “barely tolerable” by a close friend. I posted previously about those events fairly recently, which may give insight into my perspective. I think I may have labeled myself toxic based on the lack of friends and friends I do have, having a tendency to up and leave, often without explanation. But nobody has ever actually called me toxic that I recall.

1 Like

I really don’t want to start a debate, but that’s what toxic means to me.

Toxic = abusive

Troll = annoying idiot



This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.