Trigger warnings and living in the real world

Strangely enough, the Internet isn’t really a great analogy for the real world. Dave Chappelle did a skit on it once, and that was ten years ago. An updated version of that skit would really demonstrate the absurdity of how things on the Internet really go.

One trend that seems to be more and more prevalent are trigger warnings. While the basic thought of having something to warn individuals away from content that they may find offensive sounds reasonable, it’s what people have done with them that really make one wonder what went wrong with the human race, and when.

To go from little warnings on some blogs here and there has ballooned into an expectation for trigger warnings to exist in the real world. One notable example I witnessed involved pages of vitriol against the fact that certain fruit were termed ‘tropical’ in a cafeteria, and the distraught writer described a panic attack reminiscent of a full-on attack of PTSD normally seen in combat veterans.

Every little thing has become a trigger to someone, and if that wasn’t enough, people are demanding special treatment from everybody around them in the real world for it. The really neat thing about the Internet is the massive amount of choice users have as to what kind of content they want to be exposed to. In fact, it’s even possible to put down or step away from an Internet-enabled device and not intake any of it at all.

Sadly, the real world isn’t this convenient. Individuals can’t simply chose what happens to them, or if anything happens to us at all. The real world is constant, with unavoidable events. As much as I’d like to have it snow sometime this winter, there’s nothing I can really do about it. It’s not up to me. What is up to me is how I deal with it. And that’s life – not demanding every little aspect cater to one’s own personal and particular preferences. If someone can’t deal with the fact that a conversation about feminism was overheard, maybe the first people to blame aren’t those having the conversation.

What did people do 20 years ago? Everybody just called it a pet peeve, and that was it. It wasn’t common to have the expectation that everybody cater to one’s pet peeve, the individual in question just dealt with it in their own way. The same way everybody deals with the nearly infinite number of hardships they’re dealt in life.

To illustrate just how absurd trigger warnings are in real life, one needs to look no further than BC’s own LGBTQ center. A trigger board stands by the entrance, warning all who come by of questionable content that could be considered triggering by some. An “E” rated video game is being played? Better put up trigger warnings for “Disney Characters” and “Cartoon Violence”. However, during a screening of “The Interview”, the trigger board simply read “Basically everything”.

At what point is the contradiction not apparent? A designated “safe space” on campus will take the time and energy to warn passers-by that Goofy or Mickey Mouse may appear on a screen, but little thought is taken to decide whether or not it’s appropriate to screen such a movie in such a setting, even straight-up admitting that there are too many offensive qualities about a movie to even fit on the warning sign. At some point, a system has broken down.

People are going to have to eventually realize that real life won’t have trigger warnings, and the solution for being triggered lies within, and not in declaring how others ought to act.

There are absurdities in limitless quantities on the Internet. Anywhere one looks, the worst of the worst and best of the best of humanity is on display for all to see. For all its glory and benefit to humanity, the Internet has really put out a lot of crap. Raging forum threads about how many days are in a week to Tumblr insanity about the validity of “mayonnaise” as a gender identity are only one side of the spectrum.

The potential for growth of the human race is limitless, and the Internet is a revolutionary tool to make that happen. All it takes is for people to strive to better themselves, to learn to deal with real life in a real life manner.