[Trigger Warning: if you think trigger warnings are a good idea, you’ll hate this post. Here are some nice cat gifs.]
You know, after extensive consultation with myself, I have come to an unpleasant realisation.
Trigger warnings trigger me.
I mean it. Every time I see a trigger warning, I have an uncontrollable urge to scream in rage, chew the carpet, put my fist through the computer monitor and write long screeds about the irredeemable stupidity of the human race. Clearly, trigger warnings trigger me something awful <grin>.
The solution <puts on smug face> is obvious. In order to stop triggering me, people should stop writing trigger warnings. <evil smirk, as done by evil characters in Disney movies, just in case someone in the audience is too dumb to realise that they’re evil>.
Ok, I’ll be serious now.
The world is not a safe place. I mean it. If you’re lucky, your parents are wealthy enough to bring you up in a nicely sheltered cocoon … which lasts until you go to school. Homeschooled? That lasts a little longer, but eventually you have to get a job and go to work. No job? That leaves you completely dependent on someone else, who may leave you in the lurch one day.
And yes, one of the dangers is encountering something that may frighten you, or set you off, or offend you, or merely get on your nerves. Trigger warnings do all four of those for me.
Yes, that was serious.
There are people who go through serious traumas in their lives, people who are left with PTSD and other mental problems. I wouldn’t make fun of someone who has genuinely suffered in their life. But looking at the vogue right now for trigger warnings, defences against micro-aggressions (as if they were intentional, which they rarely are), safe spaces and other moments of absurdities, it is increasingly difficult to take them seriously.
Put a dozen humans together and chances are that some of them will rub some of the others the wrong way. There might be a loudmouth who brags endlessly about the time he scored a touchdown while playing soccer. Or there might be a whiny little man/woman-child who’s thirty and acts like she’s five. Or there may be someone from a culture which has no sense of personal space meeting someone who is required to keep some distance between himself and everyone else at all times. And, of course, some of them will have different opinions about … well, anything really.
The internet pushes all that up to eleven. There are no shortage of opinions on the internet that I find disturbing. The concept of trigger warnings is one of them <grin>. How am I meant to know what will trigger someone? Am I required to write a 6000-word disclaimer (2 chapters) warning people that they might be offended? Or should I just shrug and point out that the internet is for adults and one of the things that separate an adult from a child is the ability to recognise that offense may not have been meant? Personally, I’m in favour of the latter.
It gets more absurd on college campuses. I won’t deny there are some subjects that are awkward even before some idiot invented the concept of trigger warnings. But should courses be changed because someone might be triggered? Should a law course be revised, keeping out all the trigger-worthy stuff, because it might cause a lawsuit? Law students might not be taught about certain crimes (rape, for example) because they might find hearing about them traumatic … but I’d bet good money they would, sooner or later, find themselves working a case that involves rape. If, of course, someone with such delicate feelings, actually manages to get a law degree in the first place.
Telling people that you have a trigger doesn’t make you look strong; it makes you look weak and pathetic. Telling people that you’re the victim of micro-aggression makes you sound ridiculous. No one will be inclined to take you seriously – and if you want to get anywhere in life, you need people to take you seriously. People have a right to their opinions – and those opinions may be different from yours.
And yes, that means I have to put up with people calling for trigger warnings. It’s a small price to pay for freedom of speech.