Trigger Warning: Rape Apology, Child Abuse, Self Harm

Jamie Kirsch

Something as simple as a trigger warning can be put in place in order to prevent outbreaks of fear. However, America’s ever-changing climate is taking a turn for the worst. These so called “trigger warnings” are leading students stranded in the abyss of the fast-paced college environment surrounded by excuses of past experiences and uncomfortable teachers. Not only are these warnings leaving teachers doubting their own curriculum, but they’re also affecting the lives of the upcoming generation.

You might think my claim of trigger warnings is rash. However, the recent use – or, should I say, misuse – of trigger warnings have brought an annoyance to my point of view. The sensitivity of American’s culture is absurd – not only are students of this generation demanding a trigger warning for articles with brief hints of sexuality, abuse, and vulgarity, but they’re also disrupting a class that they signed up for. If you feel the need to make these suggestions towards the work that teachers assign you, please pack your bag and walk out of the classroom. If you have had traumatic experiences in your life, I understand, but most people have. In order for you to move on with your life, you need to compose yourself, brace yourself for the worst, and go on with your life. These trigger warnings are holding you back – the only way to move forward is to accept your fear, and learn to live with it.

Trigger warnings are everywhere – from Facebook, to Twitter, to your classrooms, and the books you pick up at Barnes and Noble. The misuse of trigger warnings are what detonates extreme frustration. For example, I recently saw a tweet that read “#TriggerWarning: when someone gets on the bus with McDonalds.” Is there a point to this tweet? A significant message that needs attention? Or, just another “educated” sixteen-year-old messing around with social media? What once was a valuable method for those in need is now a condescending hashtag.

I completely believe the American race is coddled to the extreme – if we didn’t overuse the importance of trigger warnings, then they might be helpful for the ones who actually need them. Once upon a time, these warnings use to be a way for victims of rape, assault, PTSD, and so forth, to get that extra warning to prepare themselves for the worst. What started off as a feminist movement for rape victims, descended to all aspects of re-traumatizing content. I consider this a wide range, positive concurrence – to get a community of people together to spread the word about trigger warnings. However, some positives lead to greater negatives.

Not only are these trigger warnings an ongoing problem for teachers’ comfort levels, they’re also affecting those who don’t even have mental health problems. According to The Coddling of the American Mind, “[t]he expansive use of trigger warnings may also foster unhealthy mental habits in the vastly larger group of students who do not suffer from PTSD or other anxiety disorders.” Social learning is everywhere – for example, after hanging out with your significant other for a while, you start to develop their habits. The same goes for trigger warnings. By reading these warnings, we are getting scared of the unknown; what might have been terrifying, now certainly is due to these pessimistic warnings.

Trigger warnings lead to unnecessary behaviors – not only do they lead to irrational fear, but they’re turning people against education – something that once united us all into a life of certainty. Our culture needs to tone down the depth of fear, and get through one day at a time.