panic about trigger warnings
March 5, 2014
i had the misfortune to read this article about the creeping terror of trigger warnings onto college campuses and, well, fuck this person. and fuck all the ppl who think like them.
This is literally the concluding sentence of the article:
Bending the world to accommodate our personal frailties does not help us overcome them.
orly? and just in case you need to start panicking…
What began as a way of moderating Internet forums for the vulnerable and mentally ill now threatens to define public discussion both online and off. The trigger warning signals not only the growing precautionary approach to words and ideas in the university, but a wider cultural hypersensitivity to harm and a paranoia about giving offense. And yet, for all the debate about the warnings on campuses and on the Internet, few are grappling with the ramifications for society as a whole.
First. ‘mentally ill” REALLY???? FUCK YOU.
oh, and hey, the needs of the ‘mentally ill” are ‘threatening” to define public discussions!11!!! oh noes!
this is a very interesting word choice ~threatening~ because with the other key word all it serves to do is make an association b/w certain pathologized mental disabilities and our implicit threat of violence/harm. because ppl with mental disabilities are always almost about to be violent and the ‘normal” the ‘public” must be protected!!
i”m puzzled as to why this person thinks that a growing precautionary stance towards and ideas is a bad thing. i mean. the fact that ppl have been able to speak glibly and without thought is a source of great harm in and of itself.
but this really gets me
‘wider cultural hypersensitivity to harm”
not only does this imply that there is just a regular level of cultural sensitivity to harm (LOL) and that all these poor traumatized and disabled people are clearly overreacting, but somehow that one can be too sensitive to harm? or to the harm you cause to others? and that this is a bad thing? to care about and consider the possible harm your words and deeds bring to others??????????1
i can”t even begin to discern the point this writer is making. later on they write:
At the end of last year, Slate declared 2013 the “Year of the Trigger Warning,” noting that such alerts had become the target of humor.
(and if the fact that the writer cites jezebel of all media to support their argument isn”t evidence of the rank bullshit going on here…)
so. because assholes like jezebel and slate and others are in a place where they are mocking and trivializing trigger warnings they are now bad? wat?
and the slippery, slippery slope:
Will newspapers start applying warnings to articles about rape, murder, and war? Could they even become a regular feature of speech? “I was walking down Main Street last night when—trigger warning—I saw an elderly woman get mugged.”
when you have to rely on an argument so fundamentally flawed and fallacious, it is pretty obvious that you have no real reason to be opposing this. none.
like this part is a better attempt:
One of the problems with the concept of triggering—understanding words as devices that activate a mechanism or cause a situation—is it promotes a rigid, overly deterministic approach to language. There is no rational basis for applying warnings because there is no objective measure of words’ potential harm. Of course, words can inspire intense reactions, but they have no intrinsic danger.
but mainly fails for the false understanding of how the brain works and how language works.
‘there is no rational basis”
i”m not sure why it is so hard for these ppl to get that TRIGGER WARNINGS ARE IRRATIONAL BY NATURE
THAT IS THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT
IF PPL WITH TRIGGERS WERE ABLE TO BE RATIONAL ABOUT THEM, DO YOU THINK ANY OF US WOULD WILLINGLY JUST GO ‘I”M GOING TO HOLD ONTO THESE TRIGGERS B/C HAVING EXTREME EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO FAIRLY INNOCUOUS WORDS/IDEAS IS SUPER FUN”!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
‘there is no objective measure of words” potential harm’
THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE MEASURE TO ~POTENTIAL~ HARM OF ANY KIND.
events that exist in the (possible) future cannot be quantified in an objective fashion. yes. for things like car accidents we can create probability models for what might happen, but we cannot objectively determine the potential harm if one specific individual gets into an accident. WHICH IS WHY WE HAVE CLASSES AND LICENSING SCHEMES TO DRIVE AND ALL THESE RULES WHICH SERVE AS DE FACTO WARNINGS AS A MEANS TO PREVENT HARM
PREVENT POTENTIAL HARM IS THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT OF PUTTING A WARNING ON ANYTHING
the person notes that no two ppl respond to events in the same way or deal with trauma in the same way… and????
what the fuck even is the point of this comment.
By framing more public spaces, from the Internet to the college classroom, as full of infinite yet ill-defined hazards, trigger warnings encourage us to think of ourselves as more weak and fragile than we really are.
how fucking privileged do you need to be to not fundamentally understand that public spaces are full of infinite and ill-defined hazards
and that not taking care to ensure that public spaces are safe for the most weak and fragile among us means that we are purposefully excluding them from these spaces. maintaining an understand of public spaces as fraught with danger is precisely how we take steps to begin protecting those are weak and fragile (and note: there is nothing fucking wrong with being either weak or fragile and the suggestion that one must be strong and non-fragile is ableist). and by protecting those who are most weak and most fragile we create a public space that is accessible to all people. thus redefining ‘public” to mean, you know, everyone instead of the most privileged.
not that this person agrees with me:
Structuring public life around the most fragile personal sensitivities will only restrict all of our horizons.
and i can”t even with this line:
What”s more, the fear of triggers risks narrowing what we”re exposed to.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE TRIGGERS LIVE WITH A FAIRLY PERSISTANT FEAR OF BEING TRIGGERED AND THUS ADOPT AVOIDANT BEHAVIOURS THAT NARROW WHAT THEY ARE EXPOSED TO. BUT BECAUSE ASSHOLES LIKE THIS DON”T THINK THAT ALLOWING PPL TO BE INFORMED BEFORE BEING EXPOSED TO AN EXPERIENCE THE AVOIDANT BEHAVIOURS MEAN THAT WE HAVE TO AVOID THE GOOD ALONG WITH THE BAD.
but. hey. i mean. narrowing experiences only matters if it happens to ~normal~ ppl amirite?
the article also fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of the warnings.
warnings aren”t necessarily about ensuring ppl avoid certain situations but about giving them informed consent about the experiences they are going to have.
it is a way for ppl to choose when and if they will engage such content or have these experiences. it is a way for people to know that they might need some after/self care if they know in advance that they”ll be doing something triggering. a way for people to adequately prepare themselves if they choose to engage. and, yes, a way for people to not engage if they aren”t in a place where doing so would be healthy for them.