Trigger Warnings: Or how to create a generation of assholes without really trying
I think the answer for why trigger warnings exist is pretty simple. There is a desire to protect people from harm, even if it’s psychological harm. We want people to live healthy lives, but the question is and always should be, are you willing to infringe upon the rights of others to do it? Would you disadvantage or harm others to protect the few people who are offended? Would you allow people to be offended to protect others?
The idea of being triggered, is to do with anxiety disorders, particularly PTSD. I myself have generalized anxiety, but before that I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At the height of it I was avoiding the model of Red Truck that my father used to drive and having pretty bad nightmares. I was actually unable to comfortably do work in school concerning a book about a girl who was suicidal. It brought up bad memories, but I wouldn’t say that the book gave me panic attacks.
I’m going to say the one thing that needs to be said about this, but that no one will utter. If you need people to put trigger warnings on everything for you to live your live normally, then there is a place for you to go. It’s called a mental hospital, and it’s where people go to get stabilized. If you are the kind of person who’ll see a dick pic online and then go to the closet and hang yourself, then you aren’t healthy enough to be living in the real world.
The world was never meant to be a safe space, and the world doesn’t need trigger warnings. In my experience you can actually overcome a lot of anxiety about certain things by exposing yourself to them over time. Which is the exact opposite of what trigger warnings accomplish. They tip off the easily offended that a piece of fiction might be “problematic.” Which is just another way of saying that it will be the first thing to go, when the social justice types start burning books..oh wait..
Right now such a thing sounds crazy. But it’s already happening. People are censoring media and spaces to cater to the easily offended, and not those who suffer from PTSD or panic disorders. I have had panic attacks, and I can tell you that the only thing that stops it is a desire within yourself to survive and pull yourself together.
I remember my last panic attack like it was yesterday. I was stranded, in the bad part of town, in a state I wasn’t familiar with. Tears came involuntarily, and I’m sure that everyone looked at me like I’d lost my mind or something. I felt like I was dying or having a heart attack and I had to wait for most of it to pass. But while it was more intense than some of the ones I’d experienced, I managed to shut it down sooner and to get my shit together with the knowledge that if I didn’t act quickly I’d be without anyone to aid me.
There was no textbook trigger warning to protect me from that. There was no therapy that I could have received at the time to prepare me for what I had to do or what needed to be done. The next time I was stranded, I handled it far more calmly as a result of overcoming that fear and knowing that I was strong enough to survive it.
In creating a world of trigger warnings, you also create a world where people are less able to deal with hardship. We learn how to endure and prepare for certain hardships by reading about them in books or seeing a character overcome them in a movie. It is through encountering the unexpected, that we can become inoculated against it.
There is an obsession with destroying and defeating that which is offensive. Instead of admitting that it’s probably a bad idea to let untreated people with mental health issues wander around a school campus, we’d rather put trigger warnings in the works of Ovid. Instead of acknowledging that it isn’t the job of the world to wrap itself in metaphorical bubble wrap so that you don’t bump your head, we’d rather change media to make it less offensive.
The world is hostile. The world is not a therapeutic environment where we all form a circle and hug, before distributing cookies and punch. However it is something that must be endured, because that is the way life is. If people never have to endure anything harsh or cruel, then they end up without a real sense of empathy. They become self-centered assholes that walk around as if they are bulletproof.
But we have people in our world like that and they don’t know they’re assholes. We don’t know they’re assholes, because to everyone else they look like victims that must be protected. Often people can’t tell the difference between those who’ve been coddled all their lives and those who’ve been seriously victimized. Maybe they are even some weird combination of the two. But if there is any way of telling, it’s this. The spoiled coddled ones will never let you forget about that time someone hurt them. They will even go so far as to use it to get fame and fortune. They will ride that victimhood as far as it will take them, no matter who it hurts.
There is a huge difference between a victim and a survivor. A victim is acted upon. A survivor is acted upon and decides that they aren’t going to let that one event rule their lives. You make an active decision to grow and be better as a result of what happened to you. You forge that pain into something constructive.
A victim just has to be. They don’t have to get better, because there’s always people willing to pick up their messes and make excuses for them. They don’t have to endure anything. Every survivor starts as a victim, but they have to make the conscious decision to gain control of their lives despite everything. You don’t give them more control over their lives with trigger warnings and safe spaces. No, that is how you keep someone a victim. That is is how you halt their progress.
This is how college campuses have become filled to the brim with lunatics. Because instead of challenging them to get better, we’re keeping them in that victim mentality. We’re keeping them sick and it will only get worse with their children. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that is the world we live in.
We got here by separating people in the first world from hardship, in a valiant effort to protect them. So now the moment that any of them feel a sense of discomfort, they will claim victimhood and never have to own anything. They will not feel that they should adapt to the world, but that the world must adapt to them. We’re in Hell.