I know this post about “trigger warnings” isn’t going to make me any friends. If anything, I am going to lose some of you, because you will be annoyed by my thoughts on the subject. BUT, I’ve decided that’s okay, because I legit need to get this off my chest.
I’m writing this post in the midst of reading a book (let’s call it “The Book”) that I would say is very “triggering” for me (and by “triggering” I mean that it makes me uncomfortable in a personal way). When I started the The Book and found myself in the middle of a story I really didn’t want to be in, I thought about how much I wish I had known what this book was about, so that I could have avoided it. But then I thought about all of the reasons listed below, and realized that avoiding this book would have done me no good. So here are a few reasons why you’ll never see “trigger warnings” on my blog.
1. You are going to be faced with “triggering” things your entire life.
Turns out, you’re going to run into crappy things your entire life. What’s the point of avoiding it in a book when you’re likely to encounter it elsewhere? Also, as an adult you’re not going to be able to run away screaming at the sight of something “triggering.” You’re going to have to extricate yourself from the situation as reasonably and maturely as possible.
So as I read The Book, and found myself very uncomfortable, I had two adult choices to make: 1) close the book and stop reading it, or 2) work through the discomfort and continue reading. I happened to chose option 2, but not everyone would have and that’s okay. The point is that you faced your issue and made a choice with how best you needed to deal with. With a trigger warning, you wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to make that decision.
2. I am not responsible for your feelings.
While I am going to do my best to not be overly offensive, I can’t cater to everyone’s needs. I am not in charge of making you feel comfortable all of the time. NO ONE IS. You are responsible for dictating what you allow and don’t allow in your life.
If you want to know all the possible triggering things in a book prior to reading it, that’s fine. You’re just not going to find it here. I am here to talk about books, and part of story-telling is evoking emotions (including uncomfortable ones!) and detailing life-experiences in fictional ways.
3. How can I possibly know what could “trigger” you?
This is the thing that really gets me. When describing “triggering” things, it’s like there’s this finite list of things that might “trigger” someone. Often these things include rape, alcoholism, drug abuse, racial issues, violence, etc. But guess what? You can never know what is going to actually ‘trigger” someone.
In The Book, no one could even begin to guess what I find so upsetting about it. No one would have listed it under “trigger warnings,” and that’s the silliness of it all. Our experiences are so unique and varied, that even if I wanted to list “trigger warnings” for people, I wouldn’t be able to catch half of them, because they would seem so benign to me! So I’m not even going to try to guess.
Instead, I’m going to say, face your fears, and handle that BS like an adult.