Ohh, blogosphere. This is a terribly controversial subject, but I am here to address it because I have an opinion on it.
So, nowadays, on the internet, there is something called a ‘trigger warning’, that a lot of people get very het up about. This ‘trigger warning’ causes arguments and misery and general unpleasantry.
What is a trigger warning?
It is a warning on any content (especially video content) published on the internet about the contents of said content. It could warn about sexual abuse, self harm, hair pulling, suicide, harassment and a number of other issues that the content may cover. The warning is present to protect the people viewing the content who may be affected by the images or words, especially if they have suffered those issues and don’t want to be reminded of it.
At the surface of it all, it just seems like a genuinely nice thing to do. Oh, hey, I am posting a video that contains some imagery of self harm, so beware if that sort of thing ‘triggers’ you.
You know, gives you a panic attack or makes you spasm or makes you feel sad or depressed or triggers a bipolar or schizophrenic or psychotic episode.
I am not being sarcastic, honest. I do know that a lot of people suffer with these things. Why do you think they have warnings before a movie if there are flashing lights? To prevent epileptic episodes in people who are epileptically prone. That is important, of course. It’s important for people who are truly mentally ill.
But I am talking about triggers for things that would probably cause mild discomfort at best, exaggerated wildly by some bored teen with large opinions on feelings sitting comfortably behind their laptop. What. So now EVERYBODY has ‘severe anxiety’?
It may also be true that there are plenty of people out there who like to seek attention by complaining in the comments of videos that they were ‘triggered’ and telling the video makers off for making the video. Some of them, especially the younger and more impressionable ones, write that they are shaking and feeling terrible because of the video and shame on the video makers for not putting a trigger warning on it.
Then you have the angry realist army marching in with comments like, ‘there is no trigger warning in the real world.’
Which may sound a liiiiitle harsh, but to be honest, there is a sound point there.
There ARE no trigger warnings in real life. Controversial, painful, hurtful, cruel things happen in the real world on a daily basis, and going around with your eyes shut, shouting, ‘TRIGGER WARNING’ is childish at best.
Making videos to spread awareness of abuse and suicide is helpful to the population. Sharing experiences allows other people to recognise when they are in danger, and to know they are not alone. However, when does it become too much? Too much angst, too much feeling sharing, too much irrelevant anger and regurgitating the past over and over again, complaining about being triggered, arguing about triggers, telling everybody off on camera for not putting trigger warnings on their material.
If we all put trigger warnings on material, I am sure, in order to cover all the triggers out there, we would fill an entire page. Which is just impractical. People need to deal with their triggers and realise that the world is not going to be a safe place, ever. You need to make it safe, you need to do your bit, and you need to help yourself. Strangers on the street are, sadly, not going to help you.
When I was a young and impressionable girl, I allowed a much older man to manipulate me, rape me, convince me of unimaginable things, lower my self esteem, and make me feel pathetic and horrible. I was immensely depressed. I thought that was ‘love’. However, I escaped his evil clutches, and yeah, sometimes, when I see a video or read a book, I am severely reminded of what happened and it is certainly not pleasant. Despite this, however, I don’t think it is necessary for people who write about sexual abuse, or make videos about it, to put a ‘TRIGGER WARNING’ so I can be spared some depression.
If I lived my life afraid of being ‘triggered’, if I went around shouting at people who didn’t make sure I wasn’t ‘triggered’, I would be in a sorry state of affairs. In fact, I would probably be a mental cripple.
The point is, there ARE no trigger warnings in the real world. People have to deal with their issues, and get on with it. And it may be harder for some than for others, but we have to understand that this world is vast, and cruel, and harsh. And not everybody will bow down and respect your broken feelings. In fact, they may make them worse.
It’s a Tumblr generation thing, to find everybody and everything so problematic. It’s a self righteous, butthurt attitude spawned by teenagers, taken on by tweens, and spread around the world because teens now have a platform on which to vent their feelings. Which is fantastic, of course, but it causes a lot of problems.
Five, six years down the line they will step back and realise that perhaps they were being a little too het up about it all. Or maybe, as it becoming increasingly apparent, this attitude will be enforced by others, creating a generation of weak little weevils, too afraid to step out their front doors for fear of being ‘triggered’. The world owes you nothing. You are not special. There are millions out there suffering worse things and are not ‘warned’ before a gun explodes in their small little faces. Grow the heck up. I’m sorry.
People need to grow up.
And, I guess, life is about learning to deal with that, and sticking to the nicer people who lift you up instead of put you down.
4 thoughts on “Why is Everybody so Butthurt?”
Given my background, I have been triggered by things people have said, and that has been a response that’s left me … shaken and miserable for hours after reading the wrong thing.
Then, of course, the “wrong thing” is something that happens maybe once a year. It’s not anything or everything uncomfortable, but something truly heinous.
I’ve thus been appreciative when someone has told me, “Hey, this is something that’s apt to leave you quaking due to your PTSD.” I’ve felt like that’s someone in my corner, and appreciated moving ahead at my own speed.
People don’t have to do that, of course. People can and choose to be raging assholes, just because they can. People can choose to be too sensitive because they can, making it easier for others to justify being raging assholes. Because they can.
The truth is, we’re living in a world beyond the scope of what was even imagined two or three decades ago. It enables people to be truer and more honest than they were before. It exposes people to much greater hurts, much more frequently than they were before.
Some people taunt them or tell them they’re wusses because “this is the real world, and you don’t get warnings in the real world.” Those people haven’t yet adjusted to the reality that today’s “real world” is very, very different and more aggressive–in many ways–than the “real world” that existed just a few years ago.
I suspect there will always be people who tell others to “man up.” And I am grateful to know that the people who tell those others to “man up” in this new world are indeed the ones who help make them stronger, and help them know who is safe, and who is not. Because the whole world is not safe, and being female, or having once been a victim, does not a safe place make.
Hopefully, the same people who call others wusses for being triggered by mere text are the same ones who will have balls enough to let dissent stand.
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Thank you for this comment Deborah. The world is perilous and grave, but there is certainly some good in it. I guess what I mean is that seeking gratification from the world in general is never going to work, because while the internet is a platform for many people to do great good, it is also a place where people do great harm. It’s a natural given. I understand your appreciation of trigger warnings, greatly, but I also understand that the people who don’t use them aren’t necessarily assholes. And you are absolutely right, the real world of today is far crueller than the real world a few years back. More festered evil, too much crime to keep track of it all, and it’s hard for a lot of people to find a support group because many societies and families lack one, so more often than not, people do find themselves alone.
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I actually began this comment agreeing that I’m concerned by the proliferation of trigger warnings, but got sidetracked.
I read an article or two last week that talked about how some campuses aren’t allowed to talk about certain matters at all because of the potential bad feelings implicit. This made me so angry. You can’t talk about or change the facts of, for example, rape without addressing its realities! Funnily, those who’ve perpetrated rape may also easily say hearing the word makes them uncomfortable … thus, in the end, creating fewer safe spaces for those who have suffered to speak out against it and combat its occurrence in the future.
I don’t think the answer is in curtailing speech. In fact, I’m certain that’s not the answer. I feel like the answer is pretty much … struggling through ambiguities such as these to find a decent (if not perfect) balance between trying to not add suffering to those suffering and not actually dampening free speech in the name of limited protections.
I wish I had the answers, but as usual, I only have more and more questions.
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I like that, life IS about finding the right balance between extremes. You have wonderful words though, with which you can make some sort of difference. Thank you for your wise insight, Deborah. You have made what was an ill-formed rant into thought provoking epiphany for me, and probably others too.