Let’s use trigger warnings! But how?

[Trigger warning: discussion of triggering, mention of a picture of Hitler.]

I try to make this blog acceptable to read for anyone who can put up with the bad spelling, grammar and logic of it all. But I realise I do not use trigger warnings. Mainly I just write “now, we are going to discuss that” to introduce the most disturbing points, and hopefully give a chance to people who would be triggered to skip the passage if they wish. Somehow I found it both more natural and less shocking than a trigger warning out-of context, especially for things that are only mentioned. Now they are also mentioned in the trigger-warning, but without any introduction. However, I was told that the passage leading up to something disturbing could be triggering in itself (like, in horror movies, when the monster is not shown and that’s the most terrifying scenes, kinda).

Talking of monsters, I decided to start using trigger warnings because I’m writing a review of a book on totalitarian language, which has a picture of Hitler on the cover, and I was considering the broader issue of taking the usual picture of my cat with the book for this blog… When I started putting trigger warnings on past articles though and realized I was clueless as to how to do it well. I’m tempted to use them for jokes or passive-aggressivity, neither of which seem like a real good idea.

It is not as if I did not understand how triggering works, but my experience of it is from being triggered by things so anodine to everyone else that trigger warnings really cannot help. The extent of what should be flagged depends on who you read, but it goes from the three or four most obvious things to everything related to someone’s fears. How do we find a workable consensus? Because if trigger warnings are to be effective, they need to be, maybe above all, consistant, they need to signal when they are not there that the trigger itself is not there. As it is, trigger warnings seem more to point out what is unsafe, but not to create any safer environment for anyone.

I have found a couple of lists (the ones about a link to learn what is trypophobia which is said to be safe but links to a very weird picture that I would not call safe for anyone) but are they complete enough? Is there anything that is used as an ‘authority’ in the matter?

I’ve been reading half a dozen articles on trigger warnings, but I think I still need help before I can confidently put the appropriate warning on articles. Recommandations, please!


4 thoughts on “Let’s use trigger warnings! But how?

    • Cheers! I suppose too much is better than sorry, in this case. I know this blog, and it’s a great one! Must have been recommanded to me because you follow it. She has many good articles. Looking for how-to guides I caught a glimpse of the TW debate. It is mind-boggling that people would ‘take position’ for or against politeness and helpfulness. I’ll try to do my best for new articles at least.

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