Community Spotlight: This story doesn’t need a trigger warning but it will help you write one

Community Spotlight: This story doesn’t need a trigger warning but it will help you write one

There’s been a lot of talk, on Daily Kos and elsewhere, about content warnings. Also referred to as “trigger warnings,” they send a quick signal to prepare your readers for what’s to come. Trigger warnings are not performative activism games intended to coddle fragility, or a means of short-circuiting discussion of uncomfortable topics. Instead, think of them as a way to avoid provoking serious trouble, like labels identifying food allergens at a potluck dinner.

The term “trigger,” to reference a psychological stimulus that brings up an old trauma, is over a century old and arose post-World War I in response to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trigger warnings (TW) originated as a way to warn readers, often women who’d experienced abuse, and give them the option to decide whether or not to engage further.

This is both a courtesy and an accessibility issue. I learned how to handle these warnings in a private forum for disabled people. The diverse group includes all ages, disability types, religions, nationalities, genders, and sexualities, resulting in an equally diverse set of warning types. While the group’s warnings distinguish between content (phobias, squeamishness) and triggers (related to trauma and PTSD), the two terms are often used interchangeably, or “content” is used for both. The most important part is the actual warning.

If I had included any triggers in the text below, I could add a warning here, above the fold, before I’ve mentioned the specific triggers. I did include one in the blurb for a story we rescued this week. Now that you know this story avoids triggers, you can jump below the fold to learn about trigger/content warnings (CW), and how to use them.

We don’t know what someone else is going through, especially with online interactions, because part of surviving trauma can involve masking our vulnerability or struggling to come to terms with or blocking out that it happened at all. It’s a courtesy to consider that, even though a topic is no big deal for you, it may indeed be a big problem for someone else. Triggers are highly specific for each person—you don’t need to understand it to validate this reality. Almost daily, I read rants against the hypocrisy displayed by people who don’t consider a situation to be a problem until it’s a problem for them. Let’s not be those people.

It’s also important to think about the content you post. For instance, the PWB Peeps reminds readers to not post photos of “snakes, creepy-crawlies, and human cruelty towards animals.” Content warnings can reference topics that may make readers feel bad but don’t provoke a preexisting traumatic experience. If you choose to add a warning for something creepy, use CW not TW. The result of being triggered isn’t a momentary discomfort; it can take over your mind and body, cause panic and disorientation, and be like reliving the original trauma.

Trigger warnings are needed for violence and anything that can initiate a panic attack or be associated with PTSD. These are added to warn about material in the story and don’t need to be the story’s lead sentence. The point is to give readers space on the page to avoid the trigger before seeing the specific words. Videos showing racially motivated police violence are one example.

Whether in a story or a comment, begin with Trigger/Content Warning—TW/CW abbreviations are fine. Add a few keywords that tell readers enough to decide whether or not to continue, but not so descriptive the words themselves are a trigger. Then add several lines with one period each to separate the warning from the actual material. The period is enough to hold the space open. Don’t use rows of tildes or dashes as formatting (never do this) because screen readers used by vision-impaired people will speak every single symbol and that itself is an ADA issue and a major annoyance.

TW: violence, abuse or CW: phobia, snakes

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The text that contains the triggers can begin below the warning.

By taking two minutes to add these warnings, you avoid giving someone a panic attack, nightmares, or other trauma recurrence, and acknowledge your audience’s experiences. Kate Manne, writing in The New York Times, explains it like this: “The thought behind trigger warnings isn’t just that these states are highly unpleasant (although they certainly are). It’s that they temporarily render people unable to focus, regardless of their desire or determination to do so.”

The pandemic and extreme weather events are resulting in more and more people with PTSD. Additionally, the ability of people to easily record on their phone and post events involving racism and/or violence results in far too many triggers for populations with generational trauma. The Veterans Administration claims about 15 million people in the U.S. have PTSD in any given year, so you can be sure some of your readers do, too. We can also help each other learn what needs a warning by speaking up when our needs aren’t met and citing suitable keywords that communicate the trigger without adding distress.

By giving a heads-up notice about potential triggers, we help readers stay focused on our ideas. We choose empathy. As a result, they are more willing to see the subject in a new light, to agree with you instead of rapidly clicking off the page to avoid suffering. Win-win.

nine rescued stories from 1 pm pdt friday october 8 through 1 pm pdt friday october 15, 2021

Our rescued stories this week include one Rescued to Recommended and the first rescues for two other authors, one of which is also that author’s first story.

Community Spotlight’s mission is to ensure that the best stories from the Daily Kos Community aren’t overlooked. We encourage members who write excellent stories with original views to keep writing by promoting work that isn’t receiving enough attention. We further support a healthy Community by not rescuing topics and specific stories designed to provoke bitter comment battles, although we relish strong arguments presented fairly and backed up by credible sources.

Good news: You don’t have to search to find our rescued stories! The nightly News Roundup, an Open Thread published six days a week at 7:30 PM PDT, includes links to each day’s rescued stories.

Reminder: The numbers in parentheses after each author’s name indicate the year they joined Daily Kos, how many stories they’ve published, and how many we’ve rescued.

Our founders’ advice for saving democracy, which our schools ignored by greatlyconcerned (2008-24-?)

The author believes his lifelong quest “​​to understand how inequality & lack of peace are related to a decline of democracy” is a subject not taught in public schools that underlies current threats to U.S. democracy. “We wouldn’t be here if a critical mass of people knew the destabilizing factors to democracies and took action to strengthen ours.” Greatlyconcerned takes an in-depth look at the founders’ research and writings on how to build and keep our democracy … and the implications when we ignore much of their advice.

Loopy or stringy: What would Einstein say? by Alan Singer (2018-359-?)

Riffing off an episode of the TV show The Big Bang Theory, Alan Singer offers a humorous, well-researched look at a current problem in physics: Does “string theory or loop quantum gravity better explain the universe?” The problem for physicists is that while general relativity successfully describes big things like the formation and movement of large bodies (stars, planets, galaxies) and quantum mechanics explains the subatomic world, they provide inconsistent explanations that cannot both be right.

The Supreme Court and abortion: Why this term is important by Wilburhorse (2011-38-1)

The author examines the basic dichotomy between the anti- and pro-abortion positions, whether moral issues can override legal rights, and how the SCOTUS has historically viewed these issues. How can “rights” be assigned to either a fetus or the mother? At what point does a fetus become a life? “Being alive does not define your personhood. Legally, your birth did that. And even your death will not end your personhood rights, as seen in the organ transplant example cited below. Life is far from being the key factor in personhood.”

Perils in the permafrost, or, how what we don’t know could kill us by SninkyPoo (2015-175-21)

What if an unknown but deadly to us pathogen is buried in the permafrost and global warming uncovers it? This is the scenario that SninkyPoo presents, first as a fictional example followed by realistic evaluations, including other scenarios associated with climate change. “There are far more sweeping, far-reaching, and immediately dire sequelae of climate change to worry about,” she writes and lists five examples. “But the case of frozen Lazarus microbes arising from their icy crypts is just something else that we don’t know enough about and should be trying to prepare for.”

‘A world where there are Octobers’how I came to love the new ‘Anne’ & why you should, too by USExpat (2017-86-16)

Some of the classic books seem dated these days—the characters and culture described lack the diversity and nuance that has always existed. USExpat’s affection for the classic Anne of Green Gables initially kept her from considering the new TV series: “How dare they come along and ruin one of my favorite things?” This loving review explains how the new series goes beyond “the scope of the original books themselves, giving us a splendid portrait not just of one amazing girl (which it does), but of an entire society—its people, place, and time.” Content warning: contains trauma and harassment.

Bookchat: Music & books, books & music by anotherdemocrat (2006-245-?)

Just as the title promises, this story is about music and books because, as the author explains up front, “While I’m reading, a theme song for the book will frequently show up in my head.” He also notices when books show up in songs, contemplating literature references by several musicians, especially U2. “U2’s two most recent album titles: Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, refer to William Blake’s poems (and have fans hoping they are working on an album to be called Songs of Ascendance or Transcendence, or something similar).”

Why are ex-Republicans giving us advice? Sometimes, the irony is too rich and tiresome… by vjr7121 (2017-200-27) Rescued to Recommended

The author asks if we are “getting tired of the legion of former Republicans taking up air time to chastise Democrats for not acting more like Republicans?” Why are these ex-Republicans criticizing Democrats for not being more like Republicans when these “nihilists are the stepchildren of those who promoted “smaller big lies” of the past … they are creatures of convenience. Their allegiance is one of accommodation to their needs regardless of party affiliations.”

Science, manual arts, and the development of critical thinking skills by Woodworker (2008-27-4)

Often people will hear that teaching to develop critical thinking skills is solely a higher education topic. However, it is a fundamental component in one of those broad programs that has been banished over the decades: manual arts. Woodworker, who teaches this subject, explains the Nordic origins of this program that you may remember as “shop class.” Its brief history and philosophical underpinnings reveal how teaching critical thinking skills through working with your hands once was considered a fundamental part of any pre-university curriculum. That it’s no longer part of many school programs helps explain the apparent lack of critical thinking skills we see today.

Undocumented Americans: Who are they? by ElCondorPasa (2017-1-1)

In a brief introduction, ElCondorPasa sets the scene with basic facts about the undocumented immigrant population in the U.S. and then introduces original poems. “My strong suit is poetry, so I’m going to use a few of my poems in hope of showing some of the diversity of undocumented people, and the effects our broken immigration system has on them and many US citizens. I want to make the point that all humans have intrinsic value. These poems are all about real people and events—names omitted.”

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.

Each day’s collection of rescues is reported in the News Roundup published on the front page at 7:30 PM PDT.
To add our rescued stories to your Stream, click on the word FOLLOW in the left panel at our main page or click on Reblogs and read them directly on the group page.
You can also find a list of our rescued stories by clicking HERE.

An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT).

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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