Trigger Warning Warning

What is the point of blogs and online articles having “Trigger Warning” included in them?

I can quite understand that people who have undergone highly traumatic experiences might want to avoid viewing content which might upset them. I can understand that writing about such experiences can be therapeutic for them and also that they will at times want to share their experiences to let others know that they are not alone. However, if the mere mention of amongst other things I’ve seen trigger warnings for, gender identity concerns, the experience of having been abused or assaulted, sexual preference, race, disability and illness, is enough to cause stress, I’m not sure how a trigger warning helps.

The only time you will see a trigger warning is when the content of an article is intended to be supportive. Offensive idiots like the ones responsible for the deeply unfunny Unilad and other “banter” will never stick a trigger warning onto their rape “gags” or jokes about domestic violence. So if these are things which may cause an unwary web surfer to suffer if mentioned at all the existence of a warning isn’t going to help keep them away from anything other than people who understand what they might have experienced and want to help. In the meantime they will still be assailed by precisely the things the warnings are there to steer them away from.

They aren’t like “spoiler warnings” on reviews of films, books and plays where the intention is to stop people who want a surprise from having the surprise ruined. They’re there to tell you that the article is going to talk about something that will probably upset you a lot but that you should read it anyway. But, just as TV coverage of war or famine should include footage which shocks rather than avoids the horror, is it necessary to warn anyone that they are about to see someone supporting their plight?

Or is the point to keep everyone else away from looking at such content so that those who are not triggered don’t intrude onto the suffering of the afflicted? Isn’t there then a risk that the truly unscrupulously, gratuitously and maliciously offensive might start putting trigger warnings onto their content with the aim of causing maximum harm?


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