Why I don’t use trigger warnings

Once upon a time, I was going to college for foreign languages and put in some applications to graduate schools for linguistic anthropology. Language is one of the things I love deeply, and I will defend it no matter how many people think it should be censored. A lot of people don’t seem to have any idea how language even works, how it changes over time, etc.

You get people saying gay people can’t reclaim words like “queer” because of the history, but those same people seem oblivious to the fact that “gay” didn’t even mean “homosexual” until quite recently. Therefore, the meaning and connotation has changed. The same goes for any “reclaiming” of words.

However, the most irritating thing, for me, is when you tell people you’re against censorship and they automatically assume you’re in favor of bigotry and hate speech. That’s not what it means. Hate is what drives hate speech, the words are somewhat less important than the hate. And if you are not hateful, you can use those same words in non-hateful ways. I don’t think censorship is ever the way to go.

But on to trigger warnings. I don’t use them. This doesn’t mean I’m in favor of upsetting people, this means I consider other people to be in control of what they’re doing on the internet. You know what upsets me? The pope. Catholicism. Christianity in general. But I would never, ever, ever expect people to put “trigger warnings” every time they talk about Christianity. Mental illnesses or not (and I consider my overreaction to be mental illness-related), I don’t consider it their responsibility. I’ve also read that the more you avoid “triggers,” the more scary and debilitating they become for you. So I don’t avoid things that upset me greatly; in fact, I often seek them out on purpose. I don’t expect everyone to do that, but I imagine that most blog posts, etc. have titles that tell you what might be in the content, and you can avoid it if you want. I did actually add a paragraph to my sidebar here, simply stating that if you need trigger warnings for any reason, maybe it’s best that you don’t even look at my blog.

I also think the widespread use of trigger warnings minimizes the experiences of people who actually have PTSD (and, with the extent of trigger warnings on the internet, I doubt all of them have it. I think many of them may just not want to think about certain topics). And like I said, I completely lose my mind with rage when people talk about Christianity sometimes. But that reaction is my own, and no one is under any obligation to cater to me and censor their speech or writing about Christianity in front of me. If I expect to interact with people at all, I realize that I need to accept that other people have different beliefs and ideas that I do. Avoiding it just makes the reaction that much stronger. I recall that, after years of not really being around any type of religious people, how shocked I was when a distant relative started calling me “stupid” and “evil” just because I am not a Christian. I was not exposed to that sort of religious-based hatred for a long time, and likewise, I think she surrounds herself with people who think exactly like her and no one ever says anything that might upset another person, so it’s just a big echo chamber and they don’t know how to react to other kinds of people. (It wasn’t so much the name-calling for not being religious that made me rage about her, it was the homophobia and the protesting against gay rights.)

And likewise, I think people would find it fucking absurd if I asked them to use “trigger warnings” when they mention religion, but I’m pretty sure I get as upset at the mention of certain things about religion (esp. Christianity) as they do when people use certain words or discuss other “triggering” topics.

Also, I am unable to write much more than a sentence without including something that’s potentially triggering to somebody, so it’s much easier to just say “don’t ever look at my blog, don’t read anything I write” than to get into the particulars. I can understand the reasons other people do, but I wouldn’t remember when to do so, and would probably need so many I wouldn’t feel like doing it anyway.

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