There can be no argument against trigger warnings being a big deal. An inordinate amount intellectual effort from academics, journalists, political operatives, college administrators, and Comments Section shitlords has been expended on deriding and questioning trigger warnings. These critiques have been launched from all over the right and center of the political spectrum, and even a handful of leftists have joined in on the hand-wringing.
One need only look at the numbers to see what I mean. If we perform a Google search on the term “trigger warnings” and confine it to various alarmist, reactionary sites, we see that the phrase has been used 142 times at Quillette, 253 times at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 36 times at Heterodox Academy, 554 times at Breitbart, 315 times at the National Review, and 127 times at the Federalist. These groups categorically oppose trigger warnings and have nothing good to say about them. What this indicates is that trigger warnings are a huge issue to a lot of butthurt internet libertarians. Trigger warnings are, if I may be so bold as to suggest, triggering people on the right and center.
Clearly, people are outraged at trigger warnings. In fact, an entire cottage industry has sprung up around this issue, with multiple books and articles in mainstream magazines like The Atlantic, The Economist, and Forbes capitalizing on this outrage, spinning a sensationalist narrative on just how horrible it is that higher education is coddling minds and denying people the opportunity to have their ideas subjected to rigorous challenges. People pay to read experts who reinforce their opinions and further gin up their outrage. They recall their own time in higher education, before the dawn of trigger warnings (perhaps also before the dawn of accessibility ramps), and think about how they never had trigger warnings and they turned out just fine. They froth and foam angrily about the coddled Millennials, and even worse, their screen-obsessed younger cousins in Generation Z, and how of course the world is going to shit because these young people aren’t being triggered. They need to get triggered!
Let me just say I empathize with these crusty boomers and their anachronistic bedfellows among the younger generations. It is absolutely no fun to see your world view challenged by college professors. It is terrifying to see things change. It is alarming to be confronted with a picture of tomorrow that you hardly recognize. It is counterproductive to get so distracted by things like trigger warnings that you cannot even engage in the course material that follows it. People should not have to live like that, even if they have elected to buy into illogical conservative or centrist ideologies. And it is for that reason that I have decided to search for the middle ground, to find a solution that doesn’t trigger people who really want other people to get triggered.
I propose that, prior to displaying trigger warnings for a piece of material in an academic setting, a trigger warning be issued that informs readers or participants of an impending set of trigger warnings that precedes the course material or activity. That way, if you are the sort of person who gets triggered by trigger warnings (or who just sees them as a needless waste of time and would rather not be subjected to them), you can skip ahead and go directly to the relevant course material, without subjecting yourself to the trigger warnings that probably aren’t even for you in the first place. Sort of like how you can take the stairs instead of using an accessibility ramp at virtually any entrance to any building on any campus.
I realize that it is not like me to suggest something like this. I am way out on the political left. I make no apologies for that, and I don’t try to hide my beliefs or make concessions to outmoded ways of thinking. But, even though I cannot personally grasp why so many people get irrationally triggered over trigger warnings, I am prepared to accept that it is a big distraction for the fraction of those people that are not being disingenuous, and perhaps it is causing some students enough consternation that they are suffering academically for it. Because of that, I have dipped my toe in the waters of centrism to offer this solution of trigger warnings for trigger warnings.
I’m glad we could finally get that resolved.