What Does "Trigger Warning" Mean?

Image: Public Domain

Image: Public Domain

What does someone mean when they say “trigger warning”?

Basically, they mean that the content after the warning may contain materials that may be detrimental for some people to read. Basically, the online community that is the Internet relies on the phrase “trigger warning” to warn people that they are going to post content that is painful, shaming, or may cause someone to feel emotional distress. This is great for some people, because otherwise they may internalize what they are seeing, and take it on themselves.

In the past I have posted content discussing my hospitalizations, my past traumas, and my various idiosyncrasies. I try to put trigger warnings on the most explicit ones, because I know that someone reading about those topics may be hurt by reading about them. This lets me be a little more frank in those posts, because I don’t have to worry (quite so much) that someone will be negatively affected by what they read. Since I mean for this blog to help people, I decidedly don’t want to hurt them by mistake.

Also, you can use this phrase in person. A friend of mine and I were discussing a book, and it was very hard for him to listen to me read a few passages from it. Since they were positive and therapeutic phrases, it never occurred to me to make sure he was fine with it. His internal Jailer made him blank out and suck it up while I talked about it, because his anxiety wouldn’t let him be “selfish” enough to interrupt the conversation, in case it was helping someone else.

Don’t fall into this trap. If something is triggering you, please let the people around you know. We don’t want to hurt you, okay? No amount of “helping” I may get from the discussion justifies the tiniest amount of pain on his part. Tell someone if they are hurting you. They probably don’t know, and don’t want to do that.

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  1. Private

    Thank you very much, just recently started understand some of this … Wish it had been sooner.

  2. Amy

    I should probably put a “trigger warning” on some of the things I write, especially during the depressive/suicidal posts. I do at least try not to get graphic though. Different things trigger different people. There are a lot of things on Facebook that can trigger a downward spiral in me, and I try to “unfollow” those who post that type of thing on a regular basis. I kind of have to scroll through my newsfeed with one eye open, ya know? But I’m less triggered by mental health blogs, I guess because I know certain subjects are to be expected. I can handle reading about a suicide attempt on a mental health blog much better than I can reading about a murdered child, etc. on Facebook. But it’s different for everyone.

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