We NEED ‘Trigger warnings’ on social media petitions!

PLEASE attend to my words because as much as you want to shock us into action, if that action is self-harm, unmanageable distress or suicide (yes really) it kind of defeats the object!

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Ever been triggered? Has anyone ever said something or done something that made you just want to throw in the towel? Well, when you have a mental illness, sometimes when people do or say things like that, throwing in the towel is only one option as your ‘safe’ world caves in around you.

And mental illness is a personal journey, recovery is a series of stages and you can be so close to it, so close to being at a point where you have the tools to deal with stuff but not ‘quite’ there yet and someone triggers you and you are back at stage one. It is a difficult path to maintain balance on, one tip in the road and you fall off.

Okay,  I’m writing this because it concerns me and has concerned me for a while and I thought others would do something concerning it but they, surprisingly, haven’t and so I feel I should at least blog about it to raise awareness if nothing else.

Trigger warnings.

THESE are SO important, yet most people don’t even realise their significance or even what they achieve!

My daughter has a condition called ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’. Part of this condition is being unable to process emotion, being emotionally heightened. (It is likened to being the emotional equivalent of 1st-degree burns in sensitivity, each emotion engulfs the sufferer) and part of its treatment concerns triggers. Knowing them, avoiding them, dealing with them, safely.

Triggers are things that put her in a state of unmanageable distress.

Some, you would have no way of anticipating and are to do with circumstances, i. e. out on the street a person acting a certain way toward her or near her, you are in a situation out of your/her control? An advert with prerogative wording? Situational circumstances? etc. Some involve disagreements with actually physical people and unfair treatment. Others involve things that invoke memories such as a scent or a song playing. Not obvious and sometimes difficult to navigate but we do our best. Some are unavoidable. I’m not really talking about those in this instance as those are life and can not be legislated against.

However, some CAN and it is these which I wish to draw your attention to.

Some are pretty obvious, as their distressing content is something that sickens and distresses even those that are mentally sound. THIS IS something that can be changed and that is what I’m hoping to start a discussion on to raise awareness.

Social media petitions seem, to me at least, to be the worse offenders, why? It goes like this…

YOU see a post and invariably it will have a SHOCKING picture, designed to catch the readers attention! IN that vein, the MORE shocking the better, so ‘dead babies/mutilated animals/creatures enduring torture?

YOU, decent person that you are, ARE understandably overwhelmingly appalled at said practise and wishing it to stop, YOU, understandably sign the petition, feeling like you’re doing something!

THIS is NOT the issue!

WHEN you sign said petition, invariably, you want others to sign it (because you have good and decent friends) THIS also, is not actually ‘the’ issue. For things to change, the word must be spread! Occasionally, you sign it and don’t give it a second thought, but it will appear on your feed ‘as-is’…

And so, the friend, you do not know has certain mental health problems, sees it! Their mental health issues are triggered and while you go about your business feeling great that you have ‘made a difference’ the triggered person’s loved ones spend most of the night hiding medications and sharp objects and have to place their hands on their loved one’s heads to stop them smashing it against a wall as they scream in complete emotional agony, concerning things that are completely unconnected to that post but the emotions it brought up remind them of past trauma. (personal experience there)

THIS IS NOT your fault. The people wanting your signature are living in a world where the ‘shocking’ has to be SHOCKING or they think you do not care, in that, it isn’t really their fault either and I’m not asking for that to change. Sometimes we need a reality check.

HOWEVER, I think these petition sites and social media sites, STILL DO NEED accountability and so, when a post is ‘shocking’ it SHOULD have a trigger warning attached.

Facebook promises to remove offensive posts, however, it is woefully indiscriminate in what IT considers offensive. An example of this would be;

I reported a certain post because it contained a picture of a dead child at a crime scene that was EXTREMELY voyeuristic in its content. I reported it. Facebook investigated, then reported to me, it wasn’t offensive at all. I was, understandably shocked… in an

‘OMG Facebook, seriously? It’s someone’s child being used to illicit a popular vote?’ kind of way. But, of course, if you have tried to report anything on there you will know, I had no way to answer, they only give you a select amount of choices as to why it has upset/offended you. I was miffed and really quite annoyed but could do very little and so my life moved on.

Now, for me with that particular post? I reported it because I found the post disturbing,  it was not a serious piece of crime reporting, it was purely a ‘shock’ photo designed to illicit ‘likes’.  A,  ‘how many Amens can this poor dead child get’ post! Really quite sick and I reported it, not, because of its triggering content, I reported it because it was a dead child being used to illicit ‘likes’. However, with hindsight, it was ALSO triggering in its content.

I have reported triggering content but if it isn’t sexual or criminal it is not even considered. I seen posts I have had to hide because of their sickening content just in case my daughter walks past and seeing a dog with its ears removed and a title of ‘Highlight the profile of thugs who cut dogs ears off for LULZ’ has a total meltdown at a time when she was starting to gain tools in handling her emotions, but more than having to hide it, it disturbed ME for weeks (still does if I am honest) and NO I will not highlight what they did because it will damage not only someone I love but perhaps another person struggling as she does!

Now I’m sure the person posting that just wanted justice for those animals but my child’s mental illness supersedes their desire for vengeance, again fb came back with ‘no offence’ What can you do?

Well, What YOU can do is be mindful! Interestingly enough something my daughter is learning to do as part of her treatment (and just by the way, it is something that is difficult to learn as so few people actually practise it themselves)

I gave you the above illustrations to emphasise how this issue is not even considered within social media, in fact mental illness is SO stigmatised no one seems to care (I digress- another issue)  and how woefully inept they are at even removing triggering content and I want you, YOU, to be aware that if you sign a petition concerning some poor creature having something DREADFUL happening and you want it to stop, by ALL means, sign it,

but please, after you do such can you go onto your own page and ‘edit’ it. It’s easy, above the post, you put three stars, the words Trigger warning, then three more stars, like this…

*

*

*

TRIGGER WARNING

*

*

*

So, your friends and family who may have mental health issues KNOW this post is likely to trigger and they can move past it or prepare themselves!

This is SO important because it can do SO much damage to a person who is SO close to getting their life back together! BE AWARE that things you comment on appear on the newsfeed of others who may have issues that are very likely to do more than just ruin their day but can ruin their recovery from mental illness.

I’m now seriously thinking of starting a petition, myself, concerning these sites having the option for petitions that involve shocking content to include it on their petitions and one specifically for facebook actually, to include ‘triggering’ as an option for removal of posts. Until I do, please consider the above when you yourself sign these things (or say an ‘Amen’ on a post – how writing the word ‘Amen’ does anything is anyone’s guess but that’s another discussion 😉 ) and  if anyone else has started one, they can they send it to me I will sign the **** out of it 😉

To the people creating these ‘petitions’

PLEASE attend to my words because as much as you want to shock us into action, if that action is self-harm, unmanageable distress or suicide (yes really) it kind of defeats the object!

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