On trigger warnings and the abuse thereof

I think most people on Tumblr who demand “trigger warnings” don’t even know what a trigger is.

No, something is not “triggering” just because it grosses you out or offends you or you don’t like it.

Here are two examples of real life triggers:

  • My friend who wakes up screaming when a car backfires in the middle of the night, because he’s reliving buddies dying beside him in Afghanistan.
  • My ex who freaked out and could not enter a finished basement because it looked too much like the one she was repeatedly raped in at age seven, and seeing that room brought the entire experience back to her in full force.

These are real examples of triggering. As in, these people have no immediate control over their initial responses to certain stimuli. We’re not talking about an initial startled reaction, or being momentarily horrified—We’re talking debilitating reactions to things that go far beyond the moment, and that can take that person effectively out of normal life for anywhere from a few hours at a time onward.

Things like this can be overcome, yes, but it doesn’t always happen, and when it does, it takes a lot of work, and the results are not always perfect.

And these are the kinds of people you’re insulting, and whose experiences you belittle when you claim that—just to pull one example I’ve seen around here—that pictures of meat (not even meat itself, but a picture of meat) are “triggering” for you, when all that’s really going on is that meat grosses you out.

Yeah, I’m sure people do exist for whom pictures of meat are a trigger, but they can’t watch television or the majority of movies, or drive, or really even leave the house much, as advertisements for meat products are everywhere. And they have to avoid large swaths of the Internet, as well. Hell, they can’t even look at a package of ramen, since most ramen packages have a picture of some kind of meat on the package.

You can find something offensive, sure, but if you are capable of sitting down and writing a a snarky comment about it when you see it, it’s not a “trigger” for you. It’s just something you don’t like. And I’m not responsible for keeping you from seeing it.

(tagged with trigger warnings for #tw words #tw rational thought #tw reality check # drama queens)

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