I’m the first to say that people should be mindful of mental health and implications of unwillingly being exposed to triggering content but in the past few years this has gotten out of hand.
I’m sorry this is gonna be a bit of a bitching post but its been gratin’ on me for a while…
‘Trigger warning’ is supposed to be a term for mental health, especially PTSD but also for Eating Disorders and other mental health problems which are equally important.
I use them when mentioning sensitive issues such as SH (self -harm) and S (suicide). On mental health community sites especially the TW (trigger warning) and other abbreviations are used because it is supposed to be a ‘safe space’ (I’mma get to that in a minute).
‘Safe space’ (told ya it’d be a minute) is supposed to be a place where people who have maybe been ridiculed or persecuted for things they can’t change (religion, race, sexuality/ gender identity) or where there won’t be sensitive topics such as the ones I mentioned above.
Obviously you can’t protect everyone from everything, that’s ridiculous and in my opinion a stupid idea – you can’t live your life in wrapped in bubble wrap.
Its getting out of hand
A few years ago the University of Chicago rejected ‘safe space ‘and ‘trigger-warning’ culture which was in my opinion outrageous but looking at their reasoning actually highlights the new use of this terminology has become ridiculous and I blame Tumblr – hear me out here.
I don’t have a problem with Tumblr – when its making funny posts about fandoms and life in general but there is a very strong protectiveness culture where people believe that you have the right to shut down anyone who ‘offends’ you or ‘triggers you’. Bitch please what you mean is if someone doesn’t agree with you and all these titles you have assigned yourself then they are automatically insensitive and in the wrong.
E.g. Someone asked a person who identifies as ‘cat-kin’ (don’t get me started on that kind of crazy) how they can be vegan when cats are carnivores … The person replies saying a trigger warning should have been included because it was an intrusive question.
Just delete the question and move on with your life. That’s not a triggering question its a question ‘that means no offense’.
Only now this sort of thing is being brought out of Tumblr. ‘Safe spaces’ are being used for students who’s views are being challenged and ‘trigger warning’ for anything that might cause a negative reaction. And its these sorts of responses that are depriving people who actually need those spaces and warnings (the parties mentioned above’).
What can we do about it?
Unfortunately there is no definitive line that can be drawn under what does and does not count as ‘triggering’ because its down to personal experience.
I think having the Trigger Warning system for essential reading in school and university is a good idea for topics such as suicide, self-harm, abuse or assault of any kind as well as extreme homophobia or hate-material. I don’t think its right to get rid of them because whilst some of us may find those topics difficult, there are valuable things to learn from them or about them which shouldn’t be ignored for the sake of one’s feelings.
A person can choose for themself if they want to read the material but shouldn’t get special treatment for not having done so. If they read the material and its disturbing then counselling or even just talking with a personal tutor can help. If a person doesn’t want to read it then maybe getting a condensed version from a friend or off the internet can be a helpful alternative. Personally I think if you can challenge yourself and attempt its better than ruling it out completely.
Safe spaces – my university has a safe space for LGBT and possibly religion as well(?) don’t quote me on that. This is a good idea and whilst it shouldn’t be policed (‘excuse me and why are you here? That’s not a valid reason go away.’), it shouldn’t be used for anyone who feels like they don’t like what has been said during a lecture or conversation.
I think students (and in fact any individual who goes into any social environment) need to understand that everyone thinks differently and can’t watch out for everything they say – otherwise we wouldn’t speak at all. If someone says something to upset you, you can react negatively and shut it down (in a lot of cases people use ‘triggered’ as an excuse) rudely or you can accept what they’ve said and continue with your life whether its walking away or continuing with the conversation.
‘Trigger Warning’ and ‘Safe Space’ need to be redefined at any rate because its becoming a detriment rather than an aid for those who should be benefiting from them.
Sorry about that rant, I saw something online about it and it got me worked up (see, could’ve said triggered there). No more bitching from me for at least a month, promise.