THE PROBLEM WITH TRIGGER WARNINGS
Emotional Intelligent Expert Carolyn Stern shares her insights.
In today's climate, it's become standard to precede challenging discussions with trigger warnings or sensitivity reminders.
These cautions provide a safeguard, allowing people to choose whether or not to engage with content that may have a profound emotional impact.
Though undoubtedly rooted in empathy and care, this practice reflects a broader trend in our society.
Our world is multifaceted, often complex, and can be hauntingly dark at times. As we navigate these heavy topics, these warnings serve as a testament to our collective effort to protect one another from the uncomfortable truths that sometimes define our human experience.
In a world increasingly concerned with trigger warnings and sensitivity toward certain topics, are we losing the essential grit to face life's adversities?
Big Talk is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The unfiltered realities of history, like World War Two or the nuclear tragedies of Hiroshima, are harrowing. However, they shape our understanding of humanity and our responsibilities. We must question if our over-empathetic approach is preventing us from truly confronting and learning from these real-world experiences.
Triggers—those words, situations, or things causing emotional reactions—are often seen as something to fear or avoid. Yet, why are we so afraid of them?
Emotional expert Carolyn Stern contends that we should learn from triggers rather than run from them.
Whether it's a miscommunication during a workshop or an unintentional word that stirs an emotion, facing these triggers can teach us about ourselves. It's a journey to self-discovery, where we understand our reactions and use them as tools for personal growth.
On top of Carolyn Sterns comments, the research also indicates that trigger warnings don’t work.
For starters, triggers are incredibly personal as they can come through taste, smell, sounds, and words. For individuals who have experienced trauma, the triggers aren’t just topical they’re often rooted in something deeper and more complex.
On top of this, being aware of a triggering topic isn’t shown to reduce the anxiety or stress listeners or viewers feel when contending with the information. The argument for trigger warnings is often that it allows observers to “brace” for heavy content, but that doesn’t seem to occur.
Despite their empathetic intent, Carolyn argues that trigger warnings may deter us from confronting essential but uncomfortable truths that define our human experience.
Additionally, research indicates that these warnings don't effectively reduce anxiety or stress. It's a compelling dialogue that challenges conventional wisdom on empathy, emotional triggers, and societal norms.