'Sea-lioning' is the worrying new dating trend that you need to know about

'Sea-lioning' is the worrying new dating trend that you need to know about

It seems like these days there's a new piece of dating terminology to learn ever week. Seriously, it's like social media is totally determined to name, log and categorise every minute facet of human interaction and behaviour, and keeping up with the new terminology can feel pretty exasperating sometimes. You've heard of "ghosting" (suddenly cutting off all contact with someone) "breadcrumbing" (leaving subtle hints that you might be into someone) "catfishing" (pretending to be someone you're not online with intent to deceive) and "benching" (keeping a potential hook-up on the back-burner in case you need a partner during a dry spell). But now there's a new term to enter into your lexicon, which applies not just to dating, but any kind of online engagement: "sea-lioning."

No, it doesn't have anything to do with balancing stuff on your nose. "Sea-lioning" doesn't really have much to do with the friendly marine pinnipeds. Instead it refers to a particularly toxic and passive-aggressive form of rhetoric, which has been identified as a form of harrassment by social media users. Maybe you yourself have been 'sea-lioned' at some point in your life. But is this phenomenon legit, or are people simply overreacting?

The term stems from the webcomic Wondermark, by artist and cartoonist David Malki. In September 2014, Malki published a comic titled "The Terrible Sea Lion", in which a woman and a man are shown having a private discussion. The woman mentions that she doesn't like sea lions, before a sea lion appears and intrudes on the discussion to debate the woman, asking her repeatedly why she doesn't like sea lions and asking her for evidence and sources to back up her opinion. The sea lion is shown to be harassing the woman by following her home, to bed, and annoying her at breakfast. The comic became popularised on Reddit, and soon Reddit and Twitter-users began using "Sea-lion" as a verb.

"Sea-lioning" is therefore defined as someone online who insists repeatedly give better responses to their questions or engage in a debate with them. A sea lion will demand more and more proof, which never satisfies them and leads to cyclical arguments. You make a point, and the sea lion demands more proof. Your expertise is ignored: It’s your job to convince them. They'll even use a condescending form of politeness to excuse their passive aggressive behaviour.

However, not everyone is convinced about the legitimacy of the term, and the expression has been met with some backlash from social media users. For instance, Twitter-user Richard Olsen criticised the term, stating: "This sea-lioning thing is just a refuge for weak individuals who want to be able to drop words and not have to back them up. According to the logic above, every time a citizen asked a politician a question they didn't like, they'd be sea-lioning ... if you can't stand to be questioned then you should find yourself a quiet little cave somewhere and settle down in life as a hermit."

So what do you think? Is it a legitimate thing? Or a load of hot air? Keep an eye out for it in future!