I have worked with many people who have had PTSD.. thing is they will always have those memories of the events that caused their acute reaction. For some .. they have had to leave their employment forever and go into another direction , others have lost everything from it.. family ,friends, hobbies and so on.
One fellow I remember after being off work for two years we tried to slowly assist him into getting back to work but rather than as a paramedic on the road, he worked for a bit in the call center. He couldn't do it. The calls themselves caused flashbacks and he had waves of memories of previous emergencies he responded come crashing in on him. I remember talking with him once about how he was doing. He told me. He used to love to cook, but had since become a vegetarian because the smell of cooking meat reminded him of the smell of blood from arriving at a scene of a motor vehicle accident.
Some of the stories he told me both shocked me,and saddened me . This young man of 30 had seen and experienced more horrors than many of us will be lucky enough to not experience in our lifetime. So for this man, removing the triggers from his life was what was needed in order for him to carry on.
I think like mentioned in the article, some Trigger Warnings are reasonable while others are used poorly. People can decide for themselves what they think works for what they're writing, and if people are warned and keep reading, they really have nothing to complain about afterward. I'm an err on the side of caution type.
The article said that reading about events similar to those suffered by someone with PTSD may help them cope with it, but they would want to be reading it in the knowledge that the contents may remind them of what they went through. If they were just handed an article and told to read it, that could fuck them up because they were never given a chance to prepare.
That article just read like someone who doesn't understand how proper therapy works trying to advise people on how therapy works.
On a personal note, I hate animal cruelty, so I appreciate it if I am forewarned that something I may view, or read, has animal cruelty in it. It allows me to avoid things I would rather not see.
I think the more important elements of the article were these:
The second problem is that Trigger Warnings are often done very badly. Examples of bad Trigger Warnings include: - Superfluous Trigger Warnings, or the May Contain Nuts problem. The title of a piece is "Monster Attacks Continue To Terrorise Villagers" then it reads "Trigger Warning: Contains description of monster attacks". This is extremely common. - Over-specific Warnings/ Teasers. The Trigger Warning reads, "Trigger Warning: This piece describes a green scaly monster with blood dripping off its huge fangs and eyes like pineapples and talks about how the monster strode into the village, crushed houses with its fists and tore the village traffic warden limb from limb." when "Contains description of monster attacks" would do. Again, it's hard to tell whether the writer is over-eager to inform, or merely trying to draw the reader in. - Extremely vague Trigger Warnings. I won't link to them because they were making (some sort of) an effort but I recently saw a post, whose difficult subject matter was evident from the title, whose warning used the exact words "Trigger warning for trauma." - Warnings which use the word trigger which are all about offensive content.
- If isn't there at all if the subject matter is in the title, or in the first few sentences of the piece. Few news items would need Trigger Warnings because headline-writers tend to get to the point (or at least the most extreme point). - If doesn't say "Trigger Warning". It says "Disclaimer" or "Warning" or simply says "Contains discussion of..." at the top of the post or article. - If sums up the potentially problematic material in as few words as possible, but makes it clear.
It wasn't so much that they were dismissing them outright but bringing to light how they might be used poorly or in abusive ways.
Yeah I agree that some trigger warnings are silly. But people who can be triggered by things, usually it's some severe reasons. PTSD from anything. For example, a rape victim might want to be warned before they read or see something explicitly rape-triggery. I don't think that's unreasonable.
They can certainly be used poorly, but in general the concept is more important and rises above the poor execution.
In any case, the main areas I'm aware of that use them to excess tend to be 'safe' sites where the warnings come from the experiences of the existing population. That can lead to over sensitivity to certain issues, but in those environments a universal and overly-safe approach is entirely justified. The goal of safe areas is to make everyone able to visit the site. Warning even a small handful of individuals they might not want to join in a particular debate or read a certain post is entirely in line with that.
Personally I'd rather use more general tags, of which trigger warnings are only a subset. As a rule it's very hard to predict all likely triggers so describing your posts themes is going to be more useful. But at least people who visit sites with obvious trigger warnings are more likely to be more aware of the impacts certain topics can have on others and adjust their own behaviour, or at least consider doing so, which has it's own advantages.
I'll preface this post by saying I was diagnosed with PTSD shortly after coming back from Iraq, and I have had alot of issues with flashbacks and other symptoms.
I can see where they are trying to do with this trigger thing, but its a bit heavy-handed... Most people with mental trauma will avoid the trigger themselves on the internet, its usually pretty obvious via titles and graphics when you are going to step into something that could potentially trigger a reaction. The thing is, people are either going to take trigger warnings as a challenge, or take it as patronizing... I don't think I would appreciate having to see a warning for every single thing that might trigger bad thoughts from someones persons past.
But trigger warnings are in place for everyone, and as such cannot be tailor made for one particular person, Yeah, some people will have their curiousity piqued, some will defy the warning, but then some will read it, accept it, and move on. You can't really look at them from a personal perspective because they are not intended for a single person.
My point is that its pretty rare that your going to run into something that triggers on the internet you that there are absolutely no forewarning for. More often than not, you're going to know by title and subject matter whether you want to venture further.
Again, it's worth considering the sorts of sites that use trigger warnings.
A good example would be Ana Mardoll's site. She very explicitly and forcefully keeps the site as safe as she possible can for all visitors while still providing for debate and discussion of all sorts of material, usually in the context of discussion of fiction (incredibly useful jumping off point for exploring issues of social justice and related issues because it avoids the ambiguities and personal repercussions involved with discussing real events). Because of the first of these you are very likely to have people visiting the site who may well be triggered by the second. Notably she is currently doing a chapter-by-chapter deconstruction of Twilight which involves discussion of (apparent) disabilities, abuse and abusive behaviour, and, most recently, rape. The use of excessive trigger warnings means she can keep the broad audience and diverse voices in the majority of conversations without the triggering ones scaring them off. Sometimes potentially seriously triggering conversations are rot13-ed as well labelled so that you have to effectively opt-in to reading them (as in this thread, although a lot of that is trolls).
A site that otherwise tried to attract such a broad audience but then refused to add trigger warnings or otherwise note such material would rapidly find themselves losing that segment of the audience, reducing the site's usefulness as a meeting place for people affected by those issues. And such warnings are a minimal burden on the rest of the audience beyond maybe raising social awareness that certain issues can be harmful. Even rot13 postings aren't that hard to decode (I have leet-key set to encode/decode on alt+r which makes things rira rnfvre).
In any case, she has two posts worth reading on the subject. The first is on trigger warnings in general. The second is her comment policy which includes a lot of useful 101-style links explaining the concepts behind the rules.
opt-in is not a minimal burden. it is an unnecessary burden. all text is a trigger. if its trigger something in the reader, its doing its job. to counter-example, reddit, 4chan, the early pre-spoiler days of the internet where people got online and offended other people. it's easy to write of the admin complaints as trolls, but when do trigger warnings become the internet's esrb. installing a v-chip into the experience of virtual forums does broaden the audience, it conforms them.
if its trigger something in the reader, its doing its job.
Some people don't want to have an emotion triggered, that is what the warnings are for.
I think some people here don't quite get the point of trigger warnings. To repeat an earlier example, I hate animal cruelty, so I don't read anything about it because it just angers me. Therefore I appreciate it if an article on the subject warns me beforehand of the content so that I may avoid reading, and avoid the unpleasant emotions that it brings.
I don't think anyone is calling for trigger warnings to be enforced at gun point on shock sites. Rather that complaining about people who choose to use them on sites designed to be safe and accessible to those who feel vulnerable is utterly bizarre behaviour.
I'm all for shock and offence when it serves a purpose. Making someone feel uncomfortable and question their assumptions is a fantastic thing that should be done more often. Thing is the sort of behaviour that trigger warnings address only get the shock without the self-reflection where that shock can be productive. Instead it just pushes those who can't or don't want to deal with those topics away from the site, silencing their voices and shutting down debate.
If the only benefit from the shock I'm causing is my own amusement I need to reflect on how much I'm valuing my own amusement here. Is my amusement worth making someone feel slightly queasy with one of the classic shock images? How about potentially triggering a PTSD episode or reawakening traumatic memories that have made people feel suicidal in the past?
The internet isn't just for juvenile rape jokes and shock images, however much some people may wish. It's an invaluable tool for trauma survivors, oppressed and discriminated against groups and others who want to share their stories or learn from each other. That sometimes means making sure they can do so in a comfortable environment.
As for the censorship thing, I don't really see how trigger warnings are a bigger deal than labelling anything you post on this site NSFW or avoiding posting porn in your images.
implying i'm not certain what censorship is and i used it, cause all the cool kids are talking about it? you color the information when its presented as shocking or traumatic. am i totally without base for thinking this? if so, apologies. but censorship,, without posting the definition, is the restriction of information. no, i'm not claiming that people can't look past a trigger warning, just like i "can" see a nsfw picture or an nc-17 movie. but those are restrictions, those restrictions do taint what the person sees or understands about what they are experiencing, and the way they go about seeing or experiencing it.
censorship,, without posting the definition, is the restriction of information.
Two problems then. First, censorship is when a second party restricts your access to, or ability to share, information. Second, trigger warnings don't restrict access, they warn you about what is there. If you choose to go ahead you can, no-one is stopping you but yourself.
So I honestly don't see how you managed to infer censorship from any of that.
I would posit that the devolution of trigger warnings on the internet is mainly a function of the fundamental inability of the average person to relate to abuse-damaged folk.
It's sort of a weird analogy but I think it sort of similar to the food stamps thing that was just on the Billfold – you see this thing that people are doing out of necessity (Food stamps! Trigger warnings!) and it's so far outside the realm of how you live / what you consider acceptable for yourself that it becomes not just ridiculous but contemptuous. Add that to a free-floating antipathy for academy-bound gender studies-speak and the general judge-y enmity that seems to perpetually exist between ladyblogs and their commentariats and you get debacles like this.
There's an obvious difference, but it's worth asking why we only ever talk about inappropriate trigger warnings whenever we talk about trigger warnings at all. Why even bother needling touchy agorophobes, if not to suggest an inherent ridiculousness or weakness that comes with requiring disclaimers in the first place? Disclaimers for pictures of rotting food are to trigger warnings as "welfare queens" are to social programs. What kind of person even needs trigger warnings? Silly and fragile people, apparently.
There is a difference between, "these people are misapplying that concept, what silly people," and, "these people are misapplying that concept, what a stupid concept." Again, I think that trigger warnings as a concept (and as a lead into more general accurate tagging of things on the internet, which are what power things like Tumblr Savior) have value and power, even if not always applied perfectly or even sensibly.