This blog contains upsetting scenes right from the start.

Well… er… actually, no it doesn’t. Unless of course you have serious problems with my writing style or the needless overuse of full stops and exclamation marks…!!!

I was watching the TV news the other day and a report from Syria was prefixed by something similar to the above and I found myself thinking why do they do that?

Surely these scenes of death and destruction are normal for a news broadcast? The scenes that followed were indeed horrific but I was left wondering if the men, women and children in this Damascus suburb, all apparently civilians and not that dissimilar to the men, women and children in my London suburb received the benefit of a similar warning before the shells slammed into their homes.

This is I think, the question many people ask. Why are we in our privileged society given warnings about images of things that are actually experienced by other people in far off places?

This is what in modern social media parlance is referred to as a “trigger warning” and mocked or condemned by many in positions of privilege. It’s designed to warn those who’ve experienced horrors in the past to images which may cause them distress in the present. It can apply as easily to those who’ve survived physical attack, rape or a serious accident as well as those who’ve survived an air raid. There are increasing numbers of “survivors” in our society and the psychological damage that has resulted from their experiences is better understood. They’re here. They’re now. Why should we accidently cause people to relive their most traumatic experiences? The trigger warnings are for them.

In my equalities-centred world I find the need to provide trigger warnings is constant. This is not just about air raids and transport accidents it’s about everyday things that happen to everyday people. They happen in the next street and the car park over the road. The huge number of women in this country who’ve been raped or sexually assaulted; the trans people who’ve been brutally attacked for simply existing; the disabled people who are abused and spat at day-in-day-out for being “scroungers” and with no means or confidence for self-defence; the ex-soldiers who are distressed by every loud noise; the people of colour who continue to suffer racist attacks in their own country… for these people, though they may hide it well, the emotional trauma is ever present and ready to leap out with the slightest nudge. Have you ever experienced a friend turn into a quivering tearful wreck at some event that barely registered with you? I have. What huge cost for something so small and trivial?

So yes – though it may seem silly to many of us such warnings are necessary. Think about your content and keep applying them. For most people it’s a minor issue but for others it will save a lot of pain.

 

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