Saturday, April 11, 2015

Content Warnings

A quick word on the usefulness of trigger/content warnings, even for people without triggers.
(CW: mentions of suicide)

I'm not a big fan of drama as a genre, but I do like to have drama in my stories. What I mean by that is I like the way the extreme nature of the circumstances in stories pushes people into situations I don't experience in my everyday life. It lets me vicariously experience all the heightened emotions they do, and wonder what I would do in that situation. It's catharsis in its old Greek-tragedy meaning.

It used to be that suicide was one of those dramatic devices that was interesting and entertaining for me. It pushed all the right buttons of letting me slip into a scenario and play with it a little. It was never comfortable, because it always ended up with me thinking about how I would feel if someone I loved killed themselves, but it was stimulating and cathartic, as intended.

Then Flowers tried to kill themself. To everyone's unending relief they did not succeed, and are doing much better now, but suicide is no longer a topic I can brush by or have fun with. It's way too real. When I see it in play or in a movie, it's no longer idle catharsis or "I wonder how I'd react to that", it's "It could have gone that way. That could have been us." and it's "That could still happen to us one day." Thinking about people you care for killing themselves is never comfortable, but it's a very different kind of uncomfortable when it's an actual founded concern that you worry about. Way too real.

I definitely wouldn't say I'm triggered by suicide scenes, but it's no longer something I can encounter lightly in my media. It instantly trips the switch from "oh the tragedy, how delicious" to "this isn't fun anymore". I don't go out of my way to avoid it - in fact it can sometimes be useful for me to read about it and think about - but I like to know it's there. I don't like having it sprung on me when I'm trying to enjoy myself. That's why content warnings are useful to me.

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