my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

September 24, 2015

trigger warning

there are certain phrases that i feel have been corrupted, taken over and used again and again so their impact is watered down. or used in a different way than their original intended meaning, so that their present definition has skewed from what has been intended. slang has a way of doing that to words, and i am fully aware that i do it too. one phrase, though, that i wish hadn't been corrupted by the populace is "trigger warning."

now i see that phrase used by those that don't want to offend. or i see those that ask for it's usage so they know the steer clear of certain articles that they might be upset by because it is filled with different opinions than their own. but that's not how it's meant to be used. it is not a phrase that is supposed to help those pushing a completely politically correct agenda. it is not to be used lightly, placed at the beginning of any article that might offend or upset. there is nothing wrong with getting upset about things, especially if it leads to a discussion on differences. or if it highlights a point of view that was previously unknown to a person. sometimes we live too much in our own safe sphere, never venturing out to explore other viewpoints or dissenting opinions. how can we changed and grow and understand each other if we only ever surround ourselves with those like us?

but that is not the point of this post. the point of this post is how upsetting i find it that the people who need the protection that phrase provides aren't getting it. but then, that also bleeds into a larger view on the corruption of mental illness and its descriptors. people use the word "depressed" all the time to mean sad, but that word means so much more than that. i've heard people describe others with the term "bipolar," when they really mean that someone is moody or changes their mind a lot. people sometimes say they think their kids have "ADHD," even though their child is just showing the normal signs of being a kid. all these phrases, tossed around so lightly, are actually medical terms, diagnoses and diseases, and the people who have these illness (as determined by their doctor) probably don't appreciate what could be construed as the belittling of their difficulties.

(i will not say i speak for the community as a whole, i only speak for myself)

and so stories and articles with the phrase "trigger warning" don't use it to signify that they are posting something controversial, they use it as a true warning, and follow that phrase with a short description of why the follow might be a trigger for some. the warning may explain that the piece could talk about self harm or suicide or abuse of alcohol, and those that also struggle with the problem should be aware. not everyone that self harms needs to worry about reading an article on dangers of cutting, but there are some that might read it and think that it sounds like a pretty good idea. so instead of showing the possible dangers, the article would inspire those to begin again. hence the need for a warning, because some people need to be more careful than others about what they read or see or do. and maybe one day they'll get to a point where it doesn't matter, that they are strong enough read things like that without backsliding into a bad place. but then there are those that are still at the beginning of their journey, or are having a hard time, or it is just a bad moment, and then they need those warnings so they don't accidentally fall deeper into the pit.

i am all for not offending others, but a line must be drawn between being unoffensive and being ridiculous. people also must realize, though, that there are so many other views than their own, and people are fighting struggles with demons that others don't even know exist. and if we can help those that need help, or even just make their fight easier in some small way, why is that a bad thing? in the end, i guess i just wish we could take back the meaning of things, use words as they were originally intended, until we don't need those words anymore.

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