Let’s talk about trigger warnings. They may be a hot topic in the book community. But they’re important to readers.
I know several people who believe they’re more politically correct. I disagree. People forget why others need them. They’re similar to the film and TV rating systems. You don’t see viewers complain about the system, now do you? Probably not. The systems help adults decide what their children should or shouldn’t watch. So why do people complain about trigger warnings?
Perhaps political correctness does come into play here. Maybe people have had enough warnings and being conscientious of other people’s thoughts or mental stability. Heaven forbid we people try to be, I don’t know, proactive to prevent a trigger. Their primary reason is to inform potential readers of subject matters that may adversely affect them. A good example is sexual assault in literature. I had a hard time finishing Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander because the assault and torture of Jamie Fraser are almost too much. I wish I had paid attention to some of the warnings, but I didn’t.
So in my next discussion post, I want to discuss why I believe bloggers should use trigger warnings and why they’re essential to the reading experience.
Warning Readers Who Have Faced Abuse Can Prevent a Harmful Response
I have a hard time reading about any type of abuse in books, especially sexual. I am dealing with my past, and it’s hard enough to wade through my memories. But when a book contains a trigger, sometimes, I may remember what happened to me. Since I have PTSD, depression, and anxiety, I need to know how severe these scenes are in stories so I don’t need to add another outside force into the mix. I have my mind to do that for me.
Many other readers are dealing with the same issue. And they deserve to have some warning, even if it may have been seen as a spoiler so they can avert a potentially damaging reaction. But what is a reaction though?
Triggers aren’t simply a bad feeling from reading a scene in a book. A trigger can lead to suicidal thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, depression, relapses, and self-harm. As a blogger, you need to realize that it’s your responsibility and job to tell readers.
They Help Readers Decide if They Will Either Read or Purchase a Book
I have followed trigger warnings from other bloggers when I decided on buying a book. They gave me that warning. And if I have more concern than normal, I’ll ask for more details. I appreciate that notice. Sometimes, I don’t immediately read the book I’ve recently purchased. So if I’ve waited past the return policy, I’ve wasted a lot of money when I could have spent it on another book.
Not Every Author or Even Publisher Will Inform Readers of Negative Topics in Books
When I first cracked open Girls of Paper and Fire, by Natasha Ngan, I let out a sigh when I saw the trigger warning in the book. I don’t see that in most books. And most of the time, I don’t see authors telling readers about anything. Now, I’m not saying I don’t see warnings from authors at all. In fact, I see them in the reverse harem community. And I love how readers and authors are informing new readers.
Trigger Warnings Are Personal, so You Don’t Decide Who Does or Doesn’t Need Them
Yes, when people prevent themselves from seeing/reading triggers because they have a mental illness, that action isn’t always a healthy coping mechanism. They can’t heal from their trauma when they avoid it. However, that doesn’t mean you get to decide when they process and handle their trauma. You don’t give them a deadline. They need to make that decision, not you, the author, or the publisher.
Trigger warnings will always be personal. So do not insert yourself into someone’s decision.
They Will Never be a Spoiler
Do you know what a spoiler is? Someone yelling “Snape kills Dumbledore!” Trigger warnings are not. At all. Get that out of your head. They warn readers. No, they do not go into detail about topics or situations in the book.