TW for brief mentions of… basically everything that I trigger-warn for, actually.
I have anxiety triggers that are almost never warned for.
This is because my triggers are either very uncommon (people are drinking aaaaaaaaaaah) or impossible to implement warnings for (unfortunately, I cannot get the people who hate me to say “TW for pressing Ozy’s ‘I am a horrible person’ buttons”). This affects my thoughts on triggers somewhat!
First, there’s a certain well-meant but ultimately futile effort among people to warn for every conceivable trigger. It’s not going to work. I know someone who’s triggered by brunettes.* It would be absurd to warn everything “trigger warning: brunettes” because of one guy. I am never going to get people to warn for the presence of drug use, and I am slightly less likely to get people to warn for public embarrassment (although that one’s a common enough trigger for people with social phobia I think they should consider it). We should only trigger-warn for things that are common triggers– violence, eating disorders, suicide, rape and abuse, etc. I probably have more than a hundred readers who are triggered by rape at least sometimes. I have one who is triggered by brunettes. It is not worth my time to warn for brunettes.
Second, trigger warnings are really, really, really fucking important.
I don’t watch comedies unless they’ve been pre-vetted by someone I trust. There’s too high a chance that all the humor will be based around someone being embarrassed in public, and then I will have to spend the entire movie with my eyes closed and ears stopped up repeating to myself “it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie” and it will be terrible for everyone. But, you know, I can live a happy life without comedies, and comedies are not particularly harmed as a genre by my assiduous avoidance of them. But imagine, on the other hand, rape survivors and gender blogs. I think everyone can agree that gender blogs would be greatly harmed if we no longer had rape survivors comment, given the gendered nature of rape. And rape survivors would be harmed by no longer having a group of people that is much more likely than average to be supportive to talk to. But without trigger warnings, every time they read, no matter what brain-state they’re in, they might be hit by something that reminds them of their rape, and that will make it less likely that they read the fucking blog, and that is a crappy situation for everyone.
It’s not just about courtesy, it’s about blind, naked self-interest.
Now, there are two common misconceptions about trigger warnings I would like to take a moment to address.
Trigger warnings are coddling abuse survivors. I honestly have no idea where this idea comes from. I am not saying “this article is about rape, rape survivors keep out!” I’m saying “this article is about rape, so if you’d like to read something else you should probably read something else.” It’s not making them weaker, it’s empowering them to control their own mental health.
I am [identity X] and I don’t need trigger warnings. If you are a person who has survived abuse or who has an eating disorder or whatever, and you don’t need trigger warnings, GREAT. I’m honestly happy for you. Skip over them. But they take literally five seconds of my time, and they do actually help a lot of people. I think that’s a worthy thing.
Triggers aren’t real. Whenever I hear someone say this I want to go have an anxiety attack on their doorstep.
Trigger warnings no longer refer to just mental health things, they refer to anything people find annoying. It’s a fair cop; I think it’s an outcome of people trying to warn for literally everything that could possibly trigger someone, which is as previously discussed impossible. Where you draw the line about what to warn for is an individual thing; I’ve gone everywhere from “basically no warnings” to “very liberal with the warnings” myself, and I’m currently on the very liberal side. Actually, some people have transitioned to using content notes instead of trigger warnings when just referring to things that people may not want to read. Personally, I figure that if you’re not actually triggered by it you can work out what the article is about by the title or the first paragraph and hence avoid it.
Trigger warnings just help women. Err, what pile of sexist shite is that? (And, yes, I have read people say this, usually so-called MRAs.) Are we saying men aren’t raped or abused now, aren’t suicidal or self-injurers, never have eating disorders or anxiety attacks? Or are we saying that men are such masculine piles of manly manliness, free of such silly human things as ‘feelings,’ that they could never be reduced to panic by mere words? Except, um, that’s not true. Trigger warnings help all kinds of people with mental health problems! They are a good thing!
*Not really, but I don’t want to invade his privacy by sharing what his actual trigger is, and it’s similarly random.