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Mental Health

Why Being “Triggered” Isn’t Funny

TRIGGER WARNING: This mentions the topic of trigger warnings, mental illness and sexual assault.

The social phenomena of the “triggered” memes have gotten a lot of appraisals but it’s time that it ended. Mental health should never be used as a joke. It is emotionally harmful to use others who do suffer from mental illness, specifically the PTSD community.

The rise of the meme surfaced after many websites such as Tumblr, Facebook, or Twitter used “trigger warnings” to create a safe space in regards to sexual assault/harassment or mental illness. Within these communities, people began to appropriate the word by using it colloquially. Thus began the desensitization of PTSD and mental illness where people often made being “triggered” into something that cannot be taken seriously or even take ‘triggers’ seriously.

Triggers should and must be taken seriously because this makes survivors of sexual assault and those with mental illnesses have spaces where they aren’t constantly reminded of what happened to them. The word “triggered” in its denotative nature is to be defined as when someone who suffers from PTSD has a negative emotional response due to a trigger (could be smell, a word/conversation, anything really). This response can take place either emotionally or physically. The word was later adapted into other communities to devoid negative emotional responses in totality. The colloquial use of “triggered” is when someone gets their feelings hurt– through the use of memes. This is used in correlation to conversations revolving around social activism and/or social justice and is aimed at marginalized groups as well.

With such large platforms, people must create safe spaces for the sake of those who suffer PTSD (or mental illness in general) and survivors of sexual assault.  There are other alternatives to such word such as “offended” or “insulted” to be used when bothered by something someone has said. Those who praise the “triggered” meme or use the phrase in reference to being bothered have become desensitized to the gravity of mental illness due to its glamorization in the same large platforms it has surfaced on. They are continuously feeding into something that is a lot more toxic for those who have mental illness and are survivors of sexual assault, possibly surpassing their understanding. The way society is throwing this word around is completely ableist and it needs to be addressed and also, stopped. It is about time it is pointed out that this isn’t okay to do this nor will it ever be.

Please be mindful of other’s experiences and drop the joke already.

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katixa espinoza is a 19 yr old latinx writer in brooklyn who doesn’t believe in capitalization and hates when her name is autocorrected. she drinks one mocha coffee a day to fulfill her art student quota and likes to yell at people who don’t recognize their privilege. she can’t spell privilege without autocorrect. she still hates autocorrect, anyway. her works can be found on Sea Foam Mag, Textploit, GERM Mag and other places as well.

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