The writing on here is so powerful there really needs to be a trigger-warning system.

The creative writing on here is particularly moving and, in a way, designed to trigger, but can I put in a request that there is a consistent warning system? Personally, I feel less distressed at distress if I’ve been told in advance that I may be distressed – validates it.

Request for trigger warnings before referencing acts of violence, and special request for special warnings before referencing rape and suicide.

8 Comments

  1. Whilst I really agree that a good trigger warning system is necessary, I am worried about overusing triggers.

    For example, in relevance to Faith’s latest post which is what I assume sparked this comment, I think personally that there was no need for a trigger warning on that. Whilst it does mention rape by name and is understandably violent due to her anger, I don’t feel that a mention of rape just by name or an aggressive writing style should necessitate a trigger warning.

    In my opinion, correct me if I’m wrong (really please do!), there is a danger in overusing the trigger system; it diminishes the significance of a warning if the warnings are used unnecessarily: Peter and the Wolf type thing. People won’t take them seriously if they’re applied unneccessarily and then there is a risk of people being more distressed when one that actually necessitated warning is underestimated as a result of the lessened significance of the warning.

    From what I have seen online, I think the main reasons triggers are used are:

    ***graphic descriptions of or extensive discussion of abuse, especially sexual abuse or torture.

    ***graphic descriptions of or extensive discussion of self-harming behaviour such as suicide, self-inflicted injuries or disordered eating
    depictions, especially lengthy or psychologically realistic ones, of the mental state of someone suffering abuse or engaging in self-harming behaviour

    ***depictions, especially lengthy or psychologically realistic ones, of the mental state of someone suffering abuse or engaging in self-harming behaviour

    And this is what I’d want to use them for.

    I hope this isn’t me being dense, or unconsiderate. I know discussions of what is triggering can be very subjective and personal, but I am worried that overuse results in leaving them useless… Let me know what you think Swyn x

  2. Absolutely agreed, Swyn!

    slangsdale, the “crying wolf” scenario doesn’t really bother me. If I need to avoid an issue due to a trigger, I’d rather be over- than under-warned. Perhaps I’ll avoid reading one or two articles I’d otherwise have read if they are over-warned but actually wouldn’t have triggered me. That’s better than someone being triggered because nobody warned them.

    Large areas of the internet use trigger warnings with very few problems, I don’t think we need to debate their use and application from the ground up here. For example, Kwerey recommends a good trigger/content warning system here which manages to warn for both PTSD-type trigger possibilities and general consciousness-raising “augh I wish I hadn’t read that” content: http://querything.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/content-warning/

  3. Don’t really mind, though bit confused about the ‘designed to trigger’ aspect. Eg I wrote a psychological piece on anorexia that yeah may trigger some people (though I doubt it, not being advocative or tippy), but set out to delib trigger? Nope. Dunno. Could lead to mixed messages on some pieces…

  4. I think probably in your piece Rhonda, I should have included a warning at the top because it was a very explicit exploration of anorexia which is, in my opinion, definitely triggering.

    I might even edit the saved file with the printable version of GA to include that.

    Lis perhaps you are right that it is better to err on the side of caution, I am unsure…. I have been thinking a lot about triggering recently and can’t quite work out my feelings about it.

    Sorry, cyclical ramblings here.

  5. I agree with Swyn and Lis, I like the idea of trigger warnings for things associated with PTSD and content warnings for more general stuff that people might not want to read. I feel like we can’t predict what is gonna upset someone, and it’s not for anyone to decide what is legitimately upsetting (and worth warning about) and what isn’t. So it’s better to be too cautious than not cautious enough. My two cents.

  6. Y’ok georgia. I’m going to shut up my worries about overuse and jump on board.

  7. i totally agree! and my profoundest apologies for posting something referencing sexual violence without a trigger warning. that was a big fuck up and i’m glad you called me up on it. will edit immediately. so sorry!

  8. I have changed all my opinions ever after Friday. Trigger warnings everywhere please.

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