Trigger Happy

I know I've written about this before, in a different context, but I'm really getting more and more frustrated by this issue surfacing on every front in my life.

Trigger Warnings.

I don't know about you, but I feel like trigger-warnings have taken on the same kind of snowball-out-of-control, beyond-what-they-were-initially-intended-for quality that "political correctness" took on in the mid '90s.  Now it seems everywhere I go - socially, politically, academically - there's some kind of bowing down to the need for trigger warnings.  Well, I don't like the way things are headed.  

I don't like people who are basically decent, sensitive people, being held responsible for "triggering" other folks who they hardly know.  And to be clear, I put the word trigger in quotation marks, but cause I don't actually believe that MOST of the people who claim to be "triggered" are even "triggered."

To whit, using the term 'trigger' references a gun trigger, i.e., being SHOT into a state of being with FORCE and semi-PERMANENTLY.  Most of the people I hear using the term 'trigger' are talking about being uncomfortable or upset for some relatively short period of time.  This is not being triggered.  Being triggered is a long-ass affair.  It imposes on HOURS Of a life, if not DAYS.  There is no such thing as "Wow, I was so triggered a moment ago, but now I'm fine, thanks."  That doesn't happen.  So, if people would just quit using the term 'triggered' and use 'upset' or 'uncomfortable' instead, I would be much happier.

Next, who do these upset and uncomfortable people think they are expecting every random person who crosses their path to avoid subjects that are sore topics for them?  This goes back to be blog earlier last Fall about people wanting to live in a trigger-free world is tantamount to having white privilege.  There IS NO SUCH THING as a trigger-free space - be it your home, your work, your gym, your church, your yoga class, your bedroom.  If the space includes ANY kind of stimuli at all (tv, people, books, articles, art) there will probably be triggers, otherwise known as stimuli.

And unless a person has bonafide PTSD (as in night terrors, paranoia, agoraphobia, panic attacks), all this stimuli are just stimuli and we can all learn to manage our responses to them.  I am a survivor of rape, sexual molestation, emotional abuse, eating disorder and any number of mental health challenges.  There was a period of time when I had PTSD, I worked through it.  I was very careful to NOT put myself in social, public, work environments where I couldn't do the utmost to protect myself during that time.  Once I was out of the woods with the PTSD (took about six months), I was able to slowly re-introduce myself into the social, public and work spheres where I felt safe.  Occasionally, something would come along that would upset me, but I would get over it pretty thoroughly with some processing.  And I never felt that ANYONE ELSE was responsible for my mental stability.

There are those who say certain topics are just 'obviously in need of trigger warnings.'  Rape, incest, extreme violence are among these 'obvious' trigger warning subjects.  To me, these are not nearly as upsetting as war, famine, indecency, man's inhumanity to man.  These topics get me much more worked up and upset than do the first three.  But I require NO ONE to slap a disclaimer on their right, interest, or intention to speak on these matters.  I am a grown up.  If I need to excuse myself from the conversation, situation, context, I will do so, with grace and without blame.

Let's all play our own sides of the court, shall we.  And stop expecting the other side to lob balls our way.  What an artless and boring way to live.

And just to be clear, if you do, in fact, have PTSD, please protect yourself and find people who will take care of you and keep you safe.  

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