Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Note on Trigger Warnings

Over the past few months, I've noticed Trigger Warnings being used more and more on blogs I frequent. Whether this is due to them being adopted widely in that time frame or to my tastes in blogging changing, I'm not completely sure. I understand the point of them--I have had my share of traumatic revisitation, both before and after my diagnosis. My life before diagnosis, which I am slowly starting to discuss now in this blog and elsewhere, was not easy or, by most reckonings, truly civilized.

Still, I am reluctant to start using Trigger Warning tags in my titles. Not because I think that they are self-censoring, and not because I think it is wrong to use them, but because I often have a hard time telling when I have gone far enough that one is warranted. Some of the things that I have experienced that other people think should be traumatic, extreme, or troubling sits very lightly on my consciousness. Some of the most vividly traumatic events to me are things that others have laughed off. Or, at least, things they claim to have laughed off.

I'm told, fairly often, that autistic people have a diminished or underdeveloped sense of danger. This may be part of the reason why I have a hard time figuring out how to use these things.

I am open to adopting them, but for the moment, I am pretty unsure about how to judge for myself when they are appropriate. Since this blog is a mixture of my thoughts on the atheist/skeptic/atheism+ communities and my observations of myself as an autistic, with a healthy dose of diary thrown in, I know that many of my posts will be read by people who may or may not have a direct interest in all of the topics I cover. If you happen to be running through my archives and you find something that you believe I should have tagged, please feel free to let me know politely, either in comments or via my Email Me button at the top of the page.

In the meantime, I will say this: The posts that I classify under the tag "Hard Lessons" are about things that I am particularly upset about. They are my most cathartic posts, and they are usually written when I am in a state of high agitation and/or sensory overload. These are most likely to be the ones where I am blunt enough about my experiences that others could become upset by the post. The entire "Hard Lessons" tag should probably be taken as a Trigger Warning, at least by other autistics.

I don't intend to pull my punches at all in future posts. I blog under my own name, so I tend to try to avoid vulgarity and hyperbole as much as I'm able. I always assume that my posts here could become attached to my professional life at one of the universities where I teach. I also value truth, though, and I believe in confronting my own issues. This means that while I won't indulge in order to make a post sensationalistic, my posts about my own experiences will not shy away from visceral details.

All of those posts will continue to be put under the "Hard Lessons" tag. Unless you, as my readership, specifically request that I start using Trigger Warnings, we'll call that good. If you do decide that they are becoming necessary, then as I said earlier, send me a message.