Why Trigger Warnings Are Important

Why Trigger Warnings Are Important

Do not read if you get angry at the thought of respecting the boundaries of others!


I do not care what you say; trigger warnings are important.

But let’s get one thing clear, trigger warnings are not to prevent someone from getting annoyed, angry, offended or kind of sad. Trigger warnings are to prevent people from debilitating panic attacks, anxiety, flashbacks, or anything of the sort.

There seems to be a misconception about trigger warnings. It’s become a meme, and people don’t take it seriously. I’m sure this looks familiar?

This meme devalues the importance of trigger warnings to people who are mentally ill. For a while, it made me ashamed of my actual triggers, that are very real and cause me a lot of distress. People who have faced many traumas, like rape or abuse, fear saying something could be a trigger because they don't want to face public ridicule.

A lot of people say our generation is too sensitive, and that we need to "toughen up" and be less politically correct. But here's the thing: there has been no other generation like ours. Everything is online, and impossible to avoid. People make comments, telling other to kill themselves for no reason. News of rape is everywhere, and rape culture is thrown in the faces of victims everyday.

An argument could be made that cyber-bullying isn't real, and that someone could always just log off. This is a classic case of victim blaming. No one should be bullied off a website in the first place.

Trigger warnings are supposed to help people avoid topics they know upset them. There are a lot of unusual triggers out there, like food. People who had eating disorders might be upset by seeing food, and would want someone to tag it or acknowledge that there's food in a post. They know they can't rid the Internet of food, but they just don't want to see it. Triggers can help someone who used to have an eating disorder avoid something that might set back progress they have made. Why would anyone want to dismantle progress someone has made? Is it really that hard to type out a few extra words if someone asks you to?

And can we stop making fun of safe spaces?

The world is a rough place, and it's hard to avoid things that can hurt us. It's important to have someplace in which a person knows that they are safe, and that they can't hurt themselves or be hurt by other people. Why are we mocking people who have struggled in the past? Why are we intentionally hurting people because they just want to be comfortable somewhere?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, people with mental illnesses are not the same as people without, and therefore have slightly different needs. Mocking mentally ill people for those needs is ableist. It is discrimination.

Mental health has never been taken seriously. Obviously, it's much better than when people used to treat schizophrenia with fire. But mentally ill people have been the butt of outrageous jokes for too long.

Respect comes in many different forms. It's important to respect mentally ill people, or even people who have just experienced past trauma, and a good way to do that is by respecting triggers, and not make it an international meme out of it.

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