Do you think books should have trigger warnings?
Last week, we discussed graphic violence in books, particularly in YA, but also across all literature age groups. From that discussion, it would seem that most, if not all, readers support having violence represented in fiction as it is an unfortunate part of many people’s lives. Of course, there is still the discussion about how much violence should be allowed, but that is more determined by individual readers and their tolerance levels.
Now the question becomes, if we’re allowing violence in books, violence that could have severe emotional impacts on certain readers, shouldn’t we have a responsibility to provide a warning to readers? If authors have a responsibility to educate, don’t they also have a responsibility to protect?
That’s where trigger warnings come in.
Quick note: I personally do not have any triggers. I base the following information off of speaking with friends who have triggers and this little thing people often ignore called empathy.
“What is a trigger warning?”
A trigger warning is a short disclaimer at the beginning of a novel, article, video, or other form of media that informs the reader that some event will occur in the following piece of text/video that may be distressful for readers/viewers.
Examples: Abuse(physical/verbal/sexual), Self-harm, Rape, War, Gore, etc.
“Who needs trigger warnings?”
Trigger warnings are designed for people who have undergone traumatic events or people who have naturally low tolerance for reading/visualizing/discussing certain topics.
“Well, I can read about anything.”
Well, good for you, you snarky little bitch!
Not everyone may need trigger warnings. Some people have a high tolerance for traumatic, graphic events, but trigger warnings are still helpful for all reader/viewers to mentally prepare for such events in a work of fiction. Even if the general reader/viewer base does not require trigger warnings, they can still be effected when blindsided with a sudden graphic scene and there are always readers/viewers that do require warnings.
NEWSFLASH! It’s not always about you.
“But what about spoilers? I don’t want the story ruined for me.”
Me neither. I don’t want a story ruined by spoilers either, but having been caught off-guard by graphic scenes in fiction on multiple occasions, I fully support trigger warnings. Trigger warnings aren’t meant to spoil anything. They don’t give away specifics, just general ideas of the types of graphic events that will occur in the literature.
P.s. If you’re so worried about a trigger warning being a spoiler, go read another book, you insensitive prick!
“Why are trigger warnings important?”
In case you’ve been napping up to this point, please pay attention! Trigger warnings are important for protecting the emotional and mental state of readers who could be negatively effected were they to read about about a specific (generally graphic) event. Being unaware or unprepared that certain scenes are about to happen can have severe repercussions. Some readers/viewers may fall into a depressive state, others may suffer from panic attacks, and some may experience symptoms of PTSD, all of which can have lasting effects on said reader/viewer.
Trigger warnings in literature are designed to protect the mental health of all people within the reading community.
Even as I do not personally have any triggers, as I’ve stated above, I have been blindsided by various forms of graphic events in fiction before. Each impacted me in a negative manner. Being unprepared for certain events can be detrimental to all readers, which is why trigger warnings would benefit everyone. Yet, readers are not the ones responsible for including trigger warnings. Authors are.
“But what if readers don’t want to read my book because it has trigger warnings on it?”
OH! I believe Satan just reserved a place for you in Hell because you, dear author, are an asshole.
Your book, your publicity, your career should NEVER be above the mental health of your readers. What’s more, if you do harm readers by not preparing them for what occurs in your book, then you’ve lost readers anyway because the readers who avoid your book with trigger warnings are the ones who won’t return after being negatively impacted by your books after reading them in the first place. Stop being dumb. Kay, thanks! 😀
But what do you think?
Should trigger warnings be more prevalent in fiction?
Leave your thoughts below!
And check out my discussion from last week:
“Violence in Fiction“