Friday, February 29, 2008
A Request to Readers (Triggers about Triggers)
So I was browsing on Technorati a few minutes ago, checking (as I periodically do) for links to the blog, and I came across this post complaining that the title of my previous post is, in effect, false advertising, and that I should have included a trigger warning about abuse issues.
I've now included the trigger warning. Truth to tell, I'm a little ambivalent about such things: they remind me too much of the woman I knew in grad school, a former anorexic, who sat me down and gave me a list of food-and-eating-related subjects I wasn't allowed to mention in front of her, because they'd upset her too much and/or trigger her illness.
But she was asking me to censor myself; this reader is asking only for informed consent, and that's different.
At any rate, I'm very sorry I upset a reader (although, on the other hand, if that post doesn't upset you, something's wrong). But here's the request: if I need a trigger warning, please tell me so directly! My e-mail address is in my profile, and anyone can leave a comment on the blog. I shouldn't have to learn that I retraumatized someone by stumbling across it on Technorati.
And, S.I., I hope you feel better.
I continue to wrestle with my own feelings about all of this, though. See, here's the thing: I'm not sure the rest of the world is responsible for protecting me from my traumatic memories. I think it's my own job to figure out how to deal with them, with whatever help is appropriate, of course. (Note: After my own colorful experience with DV in college, which included flying furniture aimed at my head -- and very clumsily thrown, thank God, so I managed to duck it -- I was for some months terrified of flying objects. It was spring semester, and my college campus was a maze of grassy quads, all full of people playing frisbee. The flying frisbees completely undid me. I knew even at the time that this was PTSD; I also knew that the frisbee-players weren't out to get me. I got into therapy and planned long, ornate routes to my classes, routes designed to avoid frisbee games. I never would have dreamed of telling people on campus that they couldn't play frisbee because I had trouble with flying objects, or even to ask them to post signs that said, "Warning: Frisbee game in progress." On the other hand, yeah, I know, it's a lot easier to spot a frisbee from a distance than it is to know what a mistitled post is about.)
*Sigh* I've now hit the depths of political incorrectness, haven't I? I dunno. What do other people think about this? I included the trigger warning, and will do so in the future if a post seems to warrant it; I'm just a little troubled by the concept. But maybe it's like restaurants that have spiciness ratings next to the food? I really appreciate those, because I hate hot stuff.
On the other hand, as Gary pointed out when we discussed this over dinner, where does it stop? Should restaurants also include warnings if food contains fat, salt, lactose, or artificial colors? Should writers include warnings about every possible subject that could upset someone in their work? My fiction contains so many possible triggers that each of my published volumes would be twice its current length were I to list them all. Do I need to warn blog readers who hate cats when I'll be talking about one of my pets?
I'd like to try to have a rational conversation about this, if possible. Dear Readers: what do you think? How should bloggers/writers handle this issue?
Please keep all comments polite. Remember that your audience here will inevitably include people who don't agree with you, and that insulting people rarely wins them over to your point of view. Please speak as you'd wish to be spoken to.