Trigger warnings: producing an entire generation unable to take responsibility for their own feelings.
Trigger warnings are ALLOWING me to take responsibility for my own feelings by avoiding that topic. Because I really don’t want to think about my rape while I’m watching a movie with a group of other people. Or my mothers near murder while I’m cruising around the internet.
Heaven forbid you have to deal with reading “trigger warning:rape” at the top of a touchy paper. Poor you. Life must be so hard.
You aren’t the only person who gets triggered, but the lion’s share of taking back your life is “fixing” the problem (which may mean different things to different people) rather than avoidance. There is benefit to trigger warnings, but they’ve become a goddamn joke, allowing people to hide in tiny little safe bubbles from their trauma. That does not promote wellness to nearly the same degree as working toward confronting your issues in everyday life.
I should be able to choose when/if I want to confront them. If I’m having a bad week and I walk into class with with no warning, there’s a graphic rape scene playing, I’m not okay. In fact, it’d probably throw me into a panic attack. Depending on where I was and who was there, I might have to go to a hospital. There’s a difference between disagreeing with a topic and being triggered by it. You shouldn’t have to be forced to do anything. A warning is always appreciated.
But not always given. And that’s ultimately the point I’m trying to make, here. By relying on trigger warnings, we’ve taught a generation (or two) to rely on external sources for their well-being; putting your mental health into the hands of people you may not even know by expecting them to warn you of things that may set you off.
I’m not against trigger warnings themselves; in your example, the teacher has the responsibility to warn students of the graphic nature of the content. When my sister wants to watch a movie where children are physically harmed or killed, I go out of my way to alert her to it beforehand.
But the trouble with life is that it doesn’t always happen the way we expect. One of my most debilitating triggers on the past was a perfume. I couldn’t reasonably expect women to wear billboards proclaiming their event if choice, and I was forced to learn how to handle it when it happened in public.
It wasn’t easy or fun, not by any stretch, but over time the combination of exposure and self-teaching following it had greatly reduced the traumatic nature of that particular trigger.
Choosing whether it not to be confronted with a trigger is great, where possible. But the reality is that it won’t always be. I feel like the proliferation of trigger warnings, especially when they’re so often given in an environment that doesn’t actually teach coping or wellness strategies, ultimately destructive to those who need them.