By: Jeanne Winton
In the age of internet humor, the line between and joke and a serious topic is often blurred. Leaving people unsure about the need or purpose of things like trigger warnings.
Triggers are things that can make someone feel somewhat or extremely distressed. Trigger warnings are a form of warning given before a person is exposed to a potential trigger.
Alexia Brunetto, an FM student, has mixed feelings on trigger warnings. She says because she’s seen posts with people saying they were triggered by cheese, it’s very hard to take them seriously.
She says, “I feel like this generation is very oversensitive, like they can’t be offended at all.” She thinks people want a world where everyone is happy and no one has to face any difficult situations or conversations.
Some don’t think of trigger warnings as jokes, but simply don’t think they’re needed.
Isaiah Smith, a former FM student, has never been in a situation when he thought a warning should have been used. He says, “A lot of times I will see something a little disturbing but it’s the reality of the creativity within us or real life and I like being able to accept that.
Others are concerned that trigger warnings will be used as a way to stop people from exploring new ideas and topics. Travis Munson, an FM graduate, says, “If someone sees a trigger warning, maybe they’d be more inclined to ignore a video that may enlighten them to see from another perspective.”
Dusty Swanger, the President of FM, came forward with his own thoughts on trigger warnings to clear up some of the uncertainty surrounding them. Swanger says, “It’s okay to feel uncomfortable.” He goes on to say that one of the best forms of self-development is talking to people, and about things, that are different or that may be out of your comfort zone. Swanger believes that trigger warnings allow for a safer and more open platform for students to discuss difficult topics on.
While there are no solid plans for trigger warnings to be used officially at FM, some professors are already doing this for students on their own by verbally warning students before starting controversial conversation.
According to Swanger, trigger warnings are intended to, “preempt a discussion and say this might make you uncomfortable, but we’re still going to have it [this discussion] and let’s discuss why it makes you uncomfortable.” While some may be unsure about the issue, others know just how important and necessary trigger warnings can be.
Erin Willett, an FM Sophomore, is among those who support trigger warnings. According to Willett, triggers can, “induce feelings of self-loathing, depression, panic, or mania.”
Trigger warnings aren’t a joke for Erin, but a useful tool she uses to help navigate her life on and off the web.
She says, “The problem people have is that they think people who get these feelings can suppress them.”
Unfortunately, the reality is that these feelings are not something many can control, and one of their only lines of defense is often disregarded as a joke. Elizabeth Willett, an FM Student, says, “They [trigger warnings] have to be taken seriously and in today’s world where people stigmatize trigger warnings and make fun of them and the people who use/need them” it becomes difficult to use them properly or to see when they’re truly needed.
Raven Manchester, a former HFM student, says, “People shouldn’t live in fear of being made fun of or being put into a mental health episode.” Manchester says that she’s been in multiple situations where she wished a trigger warning had been used. Manchester has experienced people joking about date rape, and mental health disorders, and because of this and other situations she’s a firm believer that these warnings are necessary.