TRIGGER WARNING!!!

TRIGGER WARNING!!!

I get them

We don’t want to hurt someone, we don’t want to catch someone by surprise, we don’t want to start a bonfire of bad feelings, we don’t want to spiral into the internet comments of being the bad guy …I understand why they were started as a means to keep it all even keel.

I’m an arts therapist and I can wrap my head around why this has become such a practice online, I can see how feelings can catch and how things can be triggered in others … but as an artist and a womyn and a mother and a member of my community I don’t want people to shy away and hide from the truth of others, it needs to be put out there, it needs to be heard, it needs to be seen if we’re going to start the dialogues, begin the changes and ultimately become a people of empathy and equality … how can we start when a person who is dealing with something has to think about everyone else first and start their own dialogue worrying about how others might feel about their truth?

I get it … 

But something in me … whenever I see:

TW…

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Prickles inside … 

 

 

In a lot of groups that I’m in, I see it all over the place.  Mostly it has to do with a death, a loss of a baby, situations that deal with sexual abuse or assault, depression, suicide, anxiety …

(As an aside, I typically don’t see trigger warnings when it comes to political rants or actions that polarize people in the policial forums … they mostly reside in the posts that are personal and an emotional journey…probably because triggering others is the intent of the former)

These are things we should be talking about.  These are things that we shouldn’t as a community be moving past with a slight of the mouse.  These are the reality that other people are going through. These are things we shouldn’t be hiding away from.  They are the cornerstones of connection.  Often times when someone uses the TW … they’re looking for support, for connection for understanding …

Now I get it … if the TW is before, say, a picture of something gruesome or such …  when the content is such that if a child is around and could see it, they could be traumatized, but other than that … this is life.  This is happening.  This is not something we should ignore.  It should be there on your newsfeed.  We should be feeling the fullness of human experience.  I feel like people hide from the hard stuff, they shy away from the pain.

It’s an involuntary response when I see it.

It directly relates to my question from the previous post where I put out the question, Are We Afraid of Others’ Pain? 

whyWhy do we feel the need to superimpose this idea of a trigger whenever we talk about something that may be uncomfortable to others? Asking someone to post a trigger warning for the comfort level of others is marginalizing their experience. As I said before. I know this is probably not a popular opinion, but this is a mainstay of how I feel.  This is a topic that is very prevalent in my book The Storyteller’s Throne, the idea that we constantly are trying to pull people’s emotions in line with what’s comfortable for other’s to deal with.  Putting a trigger warning before a post is already bringing the importance of what you say and what you’ve experienced below that of someone else’s level of comfort.

It’s our experience.

It’s our feelings.

It’s our truth.

It’s okay to put it out there.

All of it.

The definition of the word trigger:

trig·ger

ˈtriɡər/

Noun

  • a small device that releases a spring or catch and so sets off a mechanism, especially in order to fire a gun.
  • an event or circumstance that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation

Verb

  • cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.

Definition of the word warning:

warn·ing

ˈwôrniNG/

Noun

  • a statement or event that indicates a possible or impending danger, problem, or other unpleasant situation
  • cautionary advice
    • advance notice of something

Definition of trigger warning :

trig·ger warn·ing

Noun

  • a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc., alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material (often used to introduce a description of such content).

Hmmm … potentially distressing material …

Yes.  It may be distressing … it’s someone’s truth … it’s someone’s heart … it’s someone’s experience.

Do we really need to place this on every post that may be distressing to others?  Should every person provide a trigger warning before they post? 

This is life … 

And there’s a place for it all … In part 3 of this 3-part post, I’m going to talk about the role of the creative in bringing the pain of Others’ into the light.

Do you feel trigger warnings are necessary?  Do you typically pass them over or gravitate toward them?  Let me know in the comments.

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