• Jaya Jha

Let's talk about Trigger Warnings & Why do we need them?

Updated: Dec 25, 2021

A warning sign on the floor depicting the significance of trigger warning in today's world.
Let's talk about Trigger Warnings & Why we need them?
How many times have you come across the term, ‘Trigger Warning’? If you are like anyone in the Gen-Z you are most of the times on social media like, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Therefore, you must have seen many videos or captions which start with, ‘Trigger Warning!’ So what is this term?

Trigger Warnings are basically statements that are mentioned before a post or video to caution the viewers about what may follow. Since some content can be disturbing and unsettling for some people, it is necessary to use trigger warnings so that people don’t view or read the content and feel uneasy. Therefore, they are placed before the content so that people who are uncomfortable with it can avoid it and escape the discomfort that they might experience.

But how does someone get triggered and why? There is not set reason or list of reasons that can trigger someone. There are different things that can trigger different people. For example, let’s say that someone has gone through substance abuse, he/she might get triggered the moment they read about or see a video about any kind of abuse. While others might be comfortable reading or seeing something on such things. Therefore, anything that you think can cause or trigger a feeling of uneasiness or trauma should come with a trigger warning. It thus, puts everyone under the moral obligation to add a trigger warning before their content and make is nitizen friendly.

Trigger warnings were used for the first time on feminist accounts in the early days of the internet, according to Disabled occupational therapist Claire Jones. They were put when talking about any abuse or cruelty against women. Many videos contain loud noises with scenes of cars rushing, here, Jones says: "A car backfiring can trigger a memory of conflict. It is a very visceral experience, almost like reliving the trauma."
But are such warnings really helpful? Well, broadly speaking, yes definitely they are helpful. They prevent people from the traumatising feeling that they might experience. But sometimes, people might use it in the wrong way. People sometimes search about triggering content to promote their feeling of help harm, which is the dark side of these warnings. Service user and mental health policy expert Liz Main says that "if someone is feeling particularly grim, they might search out triggers because they want a nudge".

Basically, these warnings make it easier for people to look for content that encourages or inspires them to hurt themselves or people around them. Similarly, Writing in the New Statesman, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett says she doesn’t like trigger warnings because they smack of "victimhood". She says she has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and feels that people she doesn't know are trying to wrap her in cotton wool. On the other hand, Jones says online forums can be helpful and believes people with mental health difficulties will find it easier to avoid such things and stay away from content that can make their condition even worse than it already is. She says: "That's why I think that trigger warnings are broadly a good thing."

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