I’m expecting this to be an absolute mess, so if I somehow glean any kernel of truth or insight, I’ve both won and failed. As ever t’were best said by Alien vs Predator: Whoever wins… We lose.
I think somewhere in my head I had the notion of mentioning a trigger warning about the discussion of trigger warnings before I realised how glib and self-fellating that was. I mention this only because it’s driving me further into confusion, increasingly complicating a dense topic I’m nowhere erudite enough to cover. Since when has that stopped me? Ever wanted to see someone dig their own grave?
Trigger warnings. They’re a thing. They’re a thing I can understand the existence of and see value in, but they’re a thing I have difficulty wrestling with theoretically. I get on board when I know that the subject matter is of a particularly traumatic topic, but my conviction wavers at the range of topics I see labelled with them. Obviously rape content is one I can easily understand. It’s horrifyingly personal in scope. My difficulty comes in with potentially wider ranging ideas that pervade our society.
The following are trigger warnings I’ve come across:
Illness, war, anxiety, fear, drugs, nuclear, alcohol, violence, racism, antisemitism, food, fascism, sociopathy, gambling, magic, zombies, colonialism, murder, pornography, calories.
Frankly it’s tough even knowing if any of these are tongue in cheek. How are you supposed to read a newspaper or history book? I get on board the trigger warning idea to a point, but where does that sliding scale end? How far do we go? How do we decide what the line is and which content is in need of a safeguard?
Concurrently, I know that trigger warnings something I have trouble championing because I’m fully aware that I’m not someone who needs them. I’m no survivor and I don’t wish to take anything away from others who are. I’m fortunate enough to be able to navigate the world without fear of setting off inner emotional turmoil or past trauma and this puts me in a privileged position. This privileged view isn’t a thing to hold in esteem, it’s something that makes me fundamentally selfish and lacking in empathy. I understand that. I’m not gonna make any excuses for myself here, I’m very likely in the wrong. I feel nothing but regret that there are people out there who have suffered because of others. It’s something that I’ve heard takes immense amounts of sustained mental and emotional fortitude to overcome. It’s a process, not an easy fix. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have so many stimuli that can cross your path from out of nowhere that leave you feeling like a crumpled heap. That’s beyond rotten.
From where I’m standing, it seems problematic and potentially damaging to instil the use of trigger warnings as a permanent solution. As far as I can see, they’re damage control and are intended as thus. Is it even possible for me to stumble any more than I currently am in this paragraph? Let’s see… I think ultimately trigger warnings could create more harm than good. There’s a massive world out there with a whole host of scary things. It’s true. Despite your best efforts, there’s still gonna be stuff that crosses your radar. As someone who’s spent a great deal of time on internet sites with potentially dark content, there’s rough stuff afoot, much of it unexpected. By all means, steer clear of things that are troubling for you when you can, but despite best efforts accidents will happen. If you’re expending so much energy avoiding them, it’s not gonna make it any easier to handle them. Erecting walls between yourself and everything you find distasteful only seeks to grow the looming shadow of those monsters behind said wall. I’m surprised Black Mirror hasn’t already gone there, but if you increase the amount of censorship in your online life aren’t you leading yourself (perhaps willingly) into false expectations of what the world is? What happens when it’s apparent that outside society isn’t shielded like those more personally catered online experiences? Will it be any easier to handle things out on the street? Or will temptation lead you to retract from the physical plane in deference to the cosier surrounds of ones and zeroes?
It’s a tricky idea and as anyone could see from the above, I haven’t quite worked out where I stand. I want everyone to be able to tolerate, nay enjoy everything around us, but it’s very apparent that’s not always possible. I fall back on ideals of people just being better, but we all know that doesn’t just happen. I strongly support people standing up and challenging oppressive power structures and dynamics. I love the notion of educating people on why the way they operate is problematic, why things don’t have to be a certain way just because they always have. I’m more than happy to have my position (whatever that is) challenged and for people to inform me, not just that I’m bad, but on why there is an issue with how I’m thinking and ways I could look to improve. Please, tell me. I don’t want people to suffer, but am I naive to think that this isn’t getting us further? I have no solutions, but fucking hell I would love some.
The irony of writing this before my first therapy session isn’t lost on me. Christ, I sincerely hope nobody “like”s this. It’s a shitshow.