I will go to the mat for trigger warnings

Let’s just clear the air around this: There’s a common misconception that trigger warnings are put there to protect overly-sensitive people who want to be protected from the harshities of the world. Some people consider them “almost 100% unnecessary” as a “sign post for the weak minded.”

 

Trigger warnings, or content warnings, are used to advise people that there might be triggering material in a post, written piece, or medium. To say that a material was triggering is not to say that it made them simply unhappy, or got their delicate feelings hurt. It would be more accurately characterized as a significant mood-altering experience of anxiety. A trigger could be anything from a smell to a description about a triggering topic, and symptoms can range from dizziness to a full-blown panic attack.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand opposition to trigger warnings (and believe me, I have tried to read the other side). To say that they exist to simply indulge people who want the world to blanket them is to ignore that they are legitimately put in place to mitigate harm.

To say that having such alerts only serve to make us more sensitive, “an over-preoccupation with our own feelings to the detriment of society as a whole” is patently false, and surprisingly in line with the exact thinking it speaks against. They do exist in the real world (movie and game ratings, for instance) and I firmly believe there is a place for them online. I have been through some experiences that would commonly be described as “triggering” and I don’t need a trigger warning for them.

So what? I know that people do. Those people have asked for something that can make their day a bit easier and I am more than happy to oblige them. And on those days where I am feeling particularly sensitive then I appreciate them all the more.

Even if it serves as nothing more than a mental signpost people fly by I find trigger warnings helpful, and I hope that the culture they are ushering in spreads further than the Internet.

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