Triggers & Trigger Warnings: I Have Some Bad News for You

It must suck to be a lumbering oaf.


It can be triggering to have to “think” while talking. Most of us just want to say what we want, and we really don’t have any mindfulness to it. That’s one of the many reasons some find it triggering when they are asked to call someone by a specific pronoun or use non-gendered language.

Granted, not wanting to use specific non-gendered language doesn’t make you a jerk, racist, bigot, etc. But if you’re triggered by requests to use non-gendered language, you need to first understand what it is that is triggering you lest you become the jerk of which you might be suspected of being.

Is the the words? Being asked to do something you do want? These are things you can sort out via meta-cognitive trigger analysis. The following chart can give you a better understanding of what’s being asked of you and how it might trigger.

I recently read a review by a college graduate criticizing an art professor for not giving a “trigger warning” when showing students images of brutalized and bloated corpses. Maybe the professor was being a dick who just wanted to shock them for the hell of it but, although the experience was unpleasant, I think shock and repulsion is the correct and natural reaction to real horror.

Life doesn’t usually give you warnings. So, it’s better to be introduced to horror in art and images rather than stumble upon them in reality unprepared. College students aren’t children and they should be prepared to face social, political, physical, emotional, and intellectual challenges in order to learn how to deal with them in the real world.