North Texas Daily

The use of trigger warnings seems inconsistent

The use of trigger warnings seems inconsistent

The use of trigger warnings seems inconsistent
October 30
18:40 2019

There’s a difference between being uncomfortable with something and being sent on a downward spiral because of it. But can the incorporation of trigger warnings stop this? Trigger warnings, which warn audiences of graphic content, started out to notify people with PTSD. However, it’s now stretched out to be used by those who don’t have it.

Not everyone has access to medical care to help with mental health issues, so trigger warnings could be a harmless way to go about it, right? But that isn’t always the case. 

If you follow someone on their personal social media account, there’s a good chance they’ll post about personal things. Muting words is a good way to avoid content you don’t particularly want to see. But I’ve seen cases where there is anger towards a person for talking freely about sensitive topics without including a trigger warning. For some people, social media is the only outlet they have to express themselves on. Not everybody knows about trigger warnings or are confused when they see posts that have “tw” at the start. It might seem like simple words but to someone else, it’s much more.

According to recent studies, trigger warnings can be more harmful than helpful. There’s a need to confront negative responses within yourself instead of asking the world to tailor to you.

The use of trigger warnings extends to arguably smaller, more common material that can make a person uncomfortable. However, avoidance can inflame the existing issue, instead of it subsiding over time through exposure. 

The world won’t always tailor to your triggers and it becomes something you learn to deal with it. Even so, not everyone has the resources to work through or overcome mental turmoil. 

There are those who get angry at others for posting without care, subjecting users to potentially distressing content. But you can’t be mad at people for not knowing your triggers and posting it. Talk to people about what triggers you so that they’re aware when they post or repost things. But what happens when you feel like you can’t bring up certain topics anymore? 

YouTuber and indie-pop singer Dodie ran into an issue with fans and her flatmate a couple of years ago whenever she would go on long rants about her depression, derealization and other negative thoughts of hers on Instagram. It might have helped some people, including me, and herself, but it was considered harmful for others. She would give no warning for the context of the captions and it was something you would just come across on her social media.

People got mad at her for this, claiming her posts about mental illness could negatively influence fans or trigger those negative feelings in others. Because of her large and young following, there was a choice to be made about who to prioritize. 

On social media, there’s a constant fear of saying the wrong thing or upsetting someone and not knowing what you can and can’t say out of it potentially triggering someone.

People shouldn’t go overboard about it and attack those who don’t use them, but instead educate those ignorant about the subject on it, especially if it’s something that’s actually been helpful rather than an escape that adds on to the anger and negativity.

Featured Illustration: Thomas Strimpel

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Natalie Thomas

Natalie Thomas

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