Content & Trigger Warnings

Content Warning: This post may be a bit of a rant.

The other day someone posted a message in one of the Facebook groups that I frequent. It read something to the effect of “Make sure you include trigger warnings in your books, because when I read XYZ I was shocked at the content!” The tone, to me at least, came across across like scolding, as if authors who don’t include trigger warnings are doing something wrong. The problem with that is that triggers are as individual as the people involved. It’s impossible to account for everyone’s fears and phobias. What freaks me out almost certainly isn’t going to be the same thing that freaks you out.

Of course that set off a heated debate. Over 100 responses later the post was locked. Now when I go to screenshot the initial post for accuracy, I can’t find it, so I’m guessing it was deleted. No matter. Here was my response.

Most people advocating for trigger warnings put forth the argument that “It takes 2 seconds to add this to your work so that you’re not triggering people with PTSD.”

My position on this is that if you’re easily triggered by things like books, that cannot get up off the table or shelf to chase you around the room, maybe you need more help than a trigger warning can provide. It’s not that I don’t feel sympathy for people with psychiatric disorders or PTSD, but unfortunately the big, evil world is not going to stand aside for you. I also feel that the book’s blurb and genre should be sufficient trigger warning. As I stated in my comment, my book is a work of horror. The emergence of paranormal romance as a genre is why I so clearly contrast my story with that of romance writers. Horrible things happen in my story, and there is zero romance.

For those who would say that not wanting to add trigger warnings is selfish of me, I say this. It’s selfish of you to push the issue. You take the side of people who need these kinds of warnings without factoring in why some of us would be against this. Here’s my take. I grew up around family members suffering from mental problems and personality disorders. It was a nonstop rollercoaster of drama, emotion, and walking on eggshells. As the “normal” one in the family, I was put through a lot of situations that were abnormal and there were demands made of me that were just not right. The demand for trigger warnings on work that is clearly indicated to have disturbing content reeks to me more of people who want special treatment, or who just want something to moan about. Perhaps this is my own trigger. I don’t know, but I refuse to spend the rest of my life being responsible for others’ emotions. Read my work, or don’t. It’s your choice.

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