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    Thursday, August 08, 2013

    Demanding Trigger Warnings: Self-Importance in Action

    In America, we are exceedingly self-important. We seem to think that we have the right to complain and alter the behavior of others. That we somehow have the right to hold other people responsible for our comfort, even if they don't know what might make us uncomfortable. If we expect to have everyone we meet never to say anything that might possibly offend us, then we are asking to live in a world with automatons and robots, not other people.

    You might be a bright and shining star, a unique and beautiful snowflake, but you aren't the only one. Everyone is special, not just you. We, as humans, communicate with a vast collection of words, images, and languages, full of nuance and inflection. Everyone's interpretation and understanding of the same word(s) is based on, and colored by their own perception and previous experiences. To one person "ice cream" might bring up images of an abusive childhood, and "snake" would be a happy memory of a childhood pet, while to others, the words/images have different feelings attached. To avoid, or expect to avoid saying or doing anything that might possibly offend or trigger someone, is to stand perfectly still and not make a sound or move. And even then, someone might be traumatized or triggered by silence, mannequins, people standing, the color of shirt you are wearing, or any other of a million things. It is impossible to avoid issuing a trigger, or to know what might be a trigger for someone else. If we posted "trigger warnings" on everything that might be a trigger, then everything that was said or written would have a trigger warning on it. That would be just as useless as not having a warning at all, and it would take more time, and be an obnoxious amount of work for the person trying to communicate.

    If you (person-general statement, not finger pointing) want to keep from being offended or triggered, stay off the internet, don't watch movies, sell your television, avoid people at all costs, and never leave the house. That will help you avoid most potential triggers. Please note that I said most, because even those extreme measures can't prevent an individual's exposure to all possible triggers.

    I have a goodly collection of triggers for my PTSD, some worse than others. I have very rarely seen any warnings for my triggers, and until now, I haven't mentioned them on social networking sites. If I see something that bothers me on the internet, I just scroll down or go to another web page. If there is a trigger that effects me in person, I attempt to remove myself from the situation so I am not around the trigger anymore. The only time I mention a trigger is when it is a really big one, and even so, usually only in person when I can't escape it, and later, privately, after the trigger has stopped and I have regained my composure, in order to prevent it from happening again. It REALLY is that easy. See trigger, leave situation.

    Now, I'm not talking about discrimination, hate crimes, or anything of that sort, but of things like "OMG, you posted a pic of a spider, you know I hate spiders, how could you?!", "you said something about appearing as if you have an addiction, and I'm offended because I have trouble with willpower and self-control and took what you said as a personal insult.", or even such silliness as "You said you didn't like my hairstyle, so I'm going to bitch you out because I took it personally, even though you had no idea what hair-style I have.".

    I'm not talking about pet peeves. If you have a pet peeve about something that is easily changed for the better of all involved (like my hatred of willful ignorance, or horrible grammar), go ahead and say something. But whatever you say, do try to make it pleasant and non-caustic, or at least somewhat humorous.

    And finally, I'm not talking about things that are sent specifically to you via personal chat, private messages, or whatever. If someone is sending you something in particular, and you have told them that a subject bothers you, they should avoid sending things specifically to you that mention it.

    Nobody should have to warn everyone off of a public post in the off chance that someone might happen across it and see something that they don't like.

    It is a natural human instinct to fight back at something that makes you uncomfortable, but we must remember that staying around a trigger, dwelling on it, and complaining about it, only increases your exposure to it, and aggravates the effect it has on you. Hear that? Purposely choosing to remain in the presence of a trigger, for whatever reason, and letting it control your thoughts, is harmful to your well-being.

    So avoiding triggers in this world is an unreasonable expectation, dwelling on having seen a trigger is unhealthy, and demanding that others cater to you is presumptuous and rude. What is the other option? Stop blaming others for how you feel. Grow up, take responsibility for your own feelings and react to the world in all it's glory like a responsible, considerate person. Don't like what you see, get over yourself, and move on to something else.

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