Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: eclipse on October 13, 2019, 09:28:12 AM

Title: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: eclipse on October 13, 2019, 09:28:12 AM
Saw this on Facebook about trigger warnings apparently there was a giant twitter storm about Leigh Baardugo first non YA  fantasy novel which passed me by.  What ever you do don’t give this readers a grimdark book.

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1378245525817971?view=permalink&id=2136829583292891&anchor_composer=false


https://meltotheany.com/2019/08/26/ninth-house-ninth-house-series-1-by-leigh-bardugo/amp/
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: ScarletBea on October 13, 2019, 09:49:44 AM
Oh for goodness sake!
Yes, books address difficult and complicated subjects - stay away from them if you'd like, but don't make it as if it's anything other that you don't like/aren't comfortable with the themes.

After reading the blurb this isn't a book I'd like, too much 'real world' and universities and americans. For grimdark, give me Anna Stephens any time.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: S. K. Inkslinger on October 13, 2019, 09:56:44 AM
I don't know. People nowadays got offended at everything, so it's better to stay on the safe side. Anyone, even famous authors, could probably have their entire lives upended by just the right lawsuit in the right circumstances. Better be safe, I think.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: The Sword in the Tome on October 13, 2019, 12:42:26 PM
It's an interesting subject, and I would need to give it more thought in order to form a proper opinion on it.  Before "trigger warnings" were even a thing, I do have several memories of warning people (in person) about the depraved contents of a particular book.  For instance, A Clockwork Orange.  It's a novel that I highly rate, but I understand it's too dark/twisted a story for many readers. 
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Rostum on October 13, 2019, 01:28:33 PM
Are trigger warning out of control. Were they ever a good idea?
Certain groups throughout time, usually argueing it's for the greater good or won't someome think of the children have sought to impose their views on the masses and by playing on a desire not to upset or offend a lot of people go along with it. Triggered strikes me as such a ridiculous term it implies you should never be challenged in your way of thinking or have to accept there are alternate viewpoints and because you are offended of feign being so others should change their convictions instead of taking a rational view and accepting for right or wrong that others have other viewpoints.

If you really feel a rating system is necessary for books then you are one step away from censoring them. Then you are one step away from burning them. This isn't about what someone feels they should be reading but about someone telling you what they think you should be reading.

Never trust anyone who wants to tell everyone else what they should think or do.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Lanko on October 13, 2019, 05:46:42 PM
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: eclipse on October 13, 2019, 08:13:41 PM
Warning : this post contains the word blood not once but twice!

I can’t see why blood written down in a story is a trigger warning you don’t actually see it like in a medical tv series.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: xiagan on October 13, 2019, 08:49:26 PM
I checked and my copy of Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warning (short story collection) is still firm between the other Neil Gaiman books on my shelf. So I can say that my Trigger Warning isn't out of control (yet).

And I fully agree with @Rostum's post. Additionally I think that there are enough echo chambers and bubbles where people only hear/read/see what they agree with. It's highly necessary to broaden everybody's horizons and confront people with the reality and not a soft-washed version of it.

Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: cupiscent on October 14, 2019, 07:55:56 AM
I support trigger warnings. They aren't for avoiding offending people, they are so people who have genuine trauma (or just a strong wish to avoid certain sorts of content/storylines) can avoid those things. Having trigger warnings is much better than someone saying, "I don't read fantasy any more because there's too much violence against women." (Which someone has said to me, and honestly, I can't argue against. There's a lot. And it's not labelled.)

What's the difference between trigger warnings and asking someone if there's x, y or z in a book? (Which I see on GoodReads all the time.)

I mean, there's a whole WEBSITE for "does this movie contain x, y or z that I don't want to watch". (It's called "Does the dog die?" but it covers much more than that. I look at some of the things on the list and wonder why anyone needs to know that, but y'know what? It's not for me, and that's fine. There are allowed to be things in the world that make life better for people who aren't me.)

So, as an example: I have a friend with a strong needle/surgery phobia. As in, she has had therapy about it and she can faint having blood drawn or watching same on television. She pays attention to the warnings attached to media rating, and she asks friends if a book contains surgical or torture scenes. Yes, reading a medical scene triggers her phobia and makes her woozy.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Yora on October 14, 2019, 08:51:28 AM
I think any fiction should have a presentation that makes it clear from the start what kind of story it is. That is all that is needed.

When you can expect that something gruesome or horrific lies ahead, people have plenty of opportunity to stop before they get there. Introducing horrific content without warning is a mean and cheap trick, but there's no practical way to stop anyone from doing it.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: ScarletBea on October 14, 2019, 12:19:22 PM
I support trigger warnings. They aren't for avoiding offending people, they are so people who have genuine trauma (or just a strong wish to avoid certain sorts of content/storylines) can avoid those things.
I understand what you're saying, but it just seems a step too far, in my opinion.

Quote
What's the difference between trigger warnings and asking someone if there's x, y or z in a book? (Which I see on GoodReads all the time.)
For me the difference is the "certainty" or "official-ness" of the warning, and that's key.
Because of course nothing is (almost) ever as it seems, not black-white, as Lanko's example with Harry Potter shows. Asking a friend or a community about specific things is very different from having a warning in the actual book, e.g. yes, book X has got torture, but it lasts half a page and is essential for the character's development, vs. book Y has got torture because it's about a guy who does torture for a living on behalf of his king...
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Yora on October 14, 2019, 01:11:51 PM
A lot of people have phobias, and the thing about phobias is that they are irrational. You can develop phobias against pretty much anything. I had a pretty severe phobia against fish until my 20s and still get startled by pictures of weird fish. Which almost all people across the world would see no reason to be scared of. We can't put thousands of warning labels on every piece of entertainment or education.
It's also not psychologically healthy. When you have a phobia or trauma, what you need to learn is that talk or depictions of your fear can not harm you. Which is not easy, and not something you can simply decide to do. It has nothing to do with being silly or irrational. But putting warning labels on everything does the opposite. It reaffirms people's fears by telling them "mentions and depictions of your fear are so dangerous that we all have to make sure you never encounter them" and encourages them to never face them.

Trigger warnings do not help people to overcome their fears and improve their lives. They make people's fears worse and increase their anxiety. Fiction should not have surprise shocks and give the audience ample opportunity to decide that the story is going into a direction they don't want to go to. Which usually can be made quite apparent by the cover, and it's just simple decency. But warning labels are psychologically harmful.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Magnus Hedén on October 14, 2019, 01:52:39 PM
I don't see that trigger warnings are out of control, but I do see some people being out of control about trigger warnings. As for their effect on my life? None. They aren't forced on me as I open a book to read. They don't try to catch me unawares when I browse the internet. Is this happening to anyone else here?

I believe the original idea with trigger warnings was to allow people with unavoidable psychological reactions to certain types of content to avoid it. PTSD, for example, is not just an irrational phobia that you can learn to deal with by facing your fears; it creates permanent changes in your brain which trigger intensely unpleasant unavoidable episodes (like flashbacks) when faced with certain stimuli.

I don't see any reason not to have trigger warnings in a place where they are easily avoided by anyone who doesn't need them, which is (or should be) most people. They could be in the back of the book or just collected on a crowd-sourced website like has been done with other media. The people who need them can then be responsible for seeking them out themselves, a bit like an adult might.

Sure, some people seem to believe that trigger warnings should be a guide they can follow as to not have their world view questioned or experience discomfort at unpleasant events, thereby avoid becoming offended – which they seem to believe is a terminal condition. The good news is: you can just ignore those people.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Magnus Hedén on October 14, 2019, 02:11:05 PM
If you really feel a rating system is necessary for books then you are one step away from censoring them. Then you are one step away from burning them. This isn't about what someone feels they should be reading but about someone telling you what they think you should be reading.

Never trust anyone who wants to tell everyone else what they should think or do.

I think I must have fallen asleep during the part of the history lesson when we learned about how as the first step of their master plan, the National Socialist German Workers' Party introduced trigger warnings.

Seriously, what possible rationale is there to say that trigger warnings will lead to censorship and book burning? And what evil forces are controlling what you think and do via the pernicious use of trigger warnings? I am quite flabbergasted by this entire statement. Please do enlighten me as to its base in logic and reality.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Rostum on October 14, 2019, 04:15:50 PM
The use of trigger warnings in this way is about shaping thoughts of parents about what they allow their kids to read. If an adult or child finds something they are reading too grotesque the likelyhood is they will put the book down.

A great example is the half a war series where Joe offed a Character and a whole lot of outrage on Goodreads sank the overall rating under the one star reviews. With a lot of people stating they didn't read past page 234.

A fictional Character died and readers didn't want that to happen? Should Joe re-write it just for them or should they suck it up? Despite the books being YA those smacking the book down were largely (petulant) adults.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Magnus Hedén on October 14, 2019, 04:38:37 PM
The use of trigger warnings in this way is about shaping thoughts of parents about what they allow their kids to read. If an adult or child finds something they are reading too grotesque the likelyhood is they will put the book down.

A great example is the half a war series where Joe offed a Character and a whole lot of outrage on Goodreads sank the overall rating under the one star reviews. With a lot of people stating they didn't read past page 234.

A fictional Character died and readers didn't want that to happen? Should Joe re-write it just for them or should they suck it up? Despite the books being YA those smacking the book down were largely (petulant) adults.

After which the government stepped in and forced Abercrombie to re-write the book, right?

I'm not saying I disagree that some of those reactions are silly. I'm just saying it's a gross overstatement that any of it equates to censorship or fascism.

Considering that we're discussing the freedom of expression, what do you suggest we do about people who want to 1-star books where their favourite character dies, or about trigger warnings?
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: cupiscent on October 15, 2019, 11:43:37 AM
A great example is the half a war series where Joe offed a Character and a whole lot of outrage on Goodreads sank the overall rating under the one star reviews. With a lot of people stating they didn't read past page 234.

Genuinely perplexed here. You mean Half a War, third book of the Shattered Sea trilogy, which has an average rating of 4.02 on GoodReads, with 88 1-star reviews out of 20,637 recorded ratings?

And honestly, even if people were 1-starring over a character death that distressed or disturbed or even just annoyed them, so what? People are certainly allowed to have opinions about books. I saw a conversation on twitter the other day about silliest 1-star reviews, and someone mentioned a 1-star review because, and I quote, the book had creased pages. Talk about things the author can't control.

I mean, I'm not saying there aren't great examples of "cancel culture" hitting a book, where it's not opinions about the book but some other nonsense going on. (But I don't think Joe Abercrombie is one of them. Not up against, say, Amelie Wen Zhao.) I've seen authors where the book isn't even finished, let alone available to read, where people are stacking on with 1-star reviews. (I'm quite sure Patrick Rothfuss and George Martin have this problem with their not-yet-released titles.) It's worse in YA because in general the YA audience is more easily mobilised online.

But I don't see that this has anything to do with trigger warnings.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: isos81 on October 15, 2019, 12:00:35 PM
Uhmm, may I ask what trigger warning is :-[
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: eclipse on October 15, 2019, 12:09:07 PM
Uhmm, may I ask what trigger warning is :-[

Look at the end of lanko’s post for examples.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Matthew on October 17, 2019, 12:35:56 PM
I don't see them as a necessarily bad idea, but more as a "Contents may be hot" label they put on takeout coffee cups...

However, I do see where some people are coming from on the censorship angle. I'm assuming the push for trigger warning is a more of less American thing as I haven't seen any in the UK (but that's just my own observations and doesn't prove anything). We are all aware of the ridiculous pretenses US schools have used to ban books (Harry Potter encouraging witchcraft... etc) and adding trigger warnings will mostly serve these people.

Imagine if you will books getting banned when they are brought to the attention of parents and various groups. These groups then have a battle to fight for each book they want banning. They have to essentially promote the book and prove it's bad or whatever.

Now imagine that every new book has to have these trigger warnings. These groups would only have to push for policies against key words, say 'witchcraft' or 'abuse' or whatever, and have any book featuring these flags automatically banned from their school district.

Many more bans, many less slipping under the radar, a much more constrained and narrow selection for children to read, creating a homogenizing effect that would self reinforce over time.
"Books with witchcraft are bad,"
"Which one put you off?"
"I've never read any, but everyone knows they're bad, that's why they're banned in schools."

And while the government couldn't make the author re-write the book as someone joked about, authors would be more likely to avoid certain issues if they knew the trigger warnings would hurt them.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Rostum on October 18, 2019, 12:52:40 AM
Sorry Wrote a long post while shattered about PTSD and 'triggers' which tend to be sensory... and deleted most of it. What was left of the post makes even less sense than the rambling horror it had turned into.

OK Trigger warnings for books. Has anyone an example of anyone ever been triggered by reading?

If you don't like something in a book you put it down, or read it anyway. Scary in books is different from scary in films.

Anyone believing books need warnings I feel is more concerned about control over others than their wellbeing. Potentially this is very damaging to authors and publishers in the same way that mainstream movies which have a ratings system cut content to avoid 18 or R ratings as this damages sales.

The no context remarks about Half A War stemmed from Joe murdering everyones favorite character and the utter outrage that followed with some  fans letting him know they stopped reading at that point and what looked like a concerted effort to downrate the book. The series was YA but those it evoked strong emotion in seem to have been adults. Would you say they were triggered? I lean towards entitled idiots who choose not to comprehend that they don't get to write Joe's books for him, but wanted to or for him to write them the way they wanted.

Just a thought but trying to protect people from feeling bad or understanding a full range of emotions may be more damaging in the long run. Perhaps we are meant to be anxious, scared, distressed and afraid some of the time. maybe that is an outlet for past trauma, however painful.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: cupiscent on October 18, 2019, 11:47:46 PM
Has anyone an example of anyone ever been triggered by reading?

Yes. See my comments above, but to recap: I have a friend with a strong needles/surgery/medical problem. She will absolutely have an unpleasant anxious reaction--entirely physical--if she reads about those things. (It's worse if she sees them; it still happens when reading.) She doesn't like that happening, so she relies on friends and other community (GoodReads is good for this) to tell her which books are safe.

That means she doesn't want to risk picking up something that someone she knows hasn't read. That's a sales limit right there that a publisher or author could overcome by having trigger warnings available somewhere. (They don't have to be on/in the book, but that would obviously be the easiest place for everyone.)

The no context remarks about Half A War stemmed from Joe murdering everyones favorite character and the utter outrage that followed with some  fans letting him know they stopped reading at that point and what looked like a concerted effort to downrate the book. The series was YA but those it evoked strong emotion in seem to have been adults. Would you say they were triggered?

No, I'd say they had a strong negative reaction that they are entirely allowed to have as readers. Or are we not allowed to low-rate books whose narrative choices we didn't like now? (I mean... you did just say that if a reader doesn't like something, they put the book down. And I have plenty of reviews on GoodReads that say, "I stopped reading at page (x) when the author did (y).") They may say they were triggered; I do not believe that is appropriate usage of the term and in fact eclipses those who have genuine trigger problems.

Just a thought but trying to protect people from feeling bad or understanding a full range of emotions may be more damaging in the long run. Perhaps we are meant to be anxious, scared, distressed and afraid some of the time. maybe that is an outlet for past trauma, however painful.

And if every human nervous system worked precisely the same way, perhaps so, but plenty of people have difficulties, whether chemical or emotional or hormonal or from past trauma, that makes certain sorts of being anxious, scared, distressed, afraid WAY worse than it should be, or that other people would experience, and can in fact ruin their day. It seems downright cruel to insist that they take that risk just because there might be some theoretical downsides to putting a few extra words on a book, or in its imprint page, or somewhere else very unobtrusive.

Let me be clear here: I'm not talking about "protecting people from feeling bad". I'm talking about protecting people from having a panic attack or reliving past trauma. Sure, maybe people might use trigger warnings to avoid reading about sexual assault becuase they just don't want to, but... why is that bad? Like you said, Rostum: they'd just put the book down anyway. Seems to me like it's missing a sale vs getting a one-star review for something the reader didn't want to read. What's worse?
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Rostum on October 19, 2019, 03:17:59 PM
As you have gathered I am vehemently opposed to any kind of trigger warning on books as it will inevitably morph into something else. Either censorship, indirect control of authors/editors or outright condemnation of existing works.

I do sympathise with your friend although am surprised. My experience with PTSD and Complex PTSD is largely trauma based where it has been medically diagnosed and at least partially understood. Those suffering tend to avoid triggers which tend to be sensory and instantaneous, locations or situations. Movies and TV are likely to get there before you are aware or you don’t watch in the expectation of having problems.

Reading strikes me as more abstract but if it can still triggers you friend then doing exactly as she is doing seems like the solution. To create a list of every potential trigger and apply them to every book is not only a monumental task but one which will continuously grow as more potential triggers are added.  Where do you stop?

I also feel those who felt it necessary to let Joe know why they stopped reading his book may have been indignant and outraged but not traumatized. I am also sure that some of them would disagree and explain at length how they mourned a fictional character for months. Perhaps that is testiment to how well it was written?
You have the choice of how to rate a book and one can only hope it is honest and based on the quality of the writing. Personally I wouldn’t down rate a book for offing a character that it has built up and if I stop reading it is because I have had enough of either the story, laziness of the author or because suspension of disbelief has not been achieved or been broken.

I despise those who will rate at one star on Amazon because they feel the book is overpriced. It tells you nothing about the story and skews the overall rating. Rating down because
Brand died and it broke the big romance with Thorn
opened a whole new path crucial for the ending. It is just petulance on the part of the reviewer and about Punishing the author, not about how good the book is. I hate to think what the GOT one star reviews read as. one Star you killed...

I tend to avoid what I don’t wish to read and use my judgement as the final decider. While I will listen to others opinions the final decision on whether read a book is mine alone. That should be true of any adult and for them to seek advice from those who have previously read the book or read reviews is their responsibility. Those with reason to be cautious should do so. Apply common sense and books are really easy to find out if they are suitable as it is.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Alex Hormann on October 19, 2019, 07:03:35 PM
Way back in (I think) December 2017, I entered the Short Story contest and won. When that story went on to the main site, it had a content warning put on it for gore. Which, to be honest, fair enough. It was gory. But the part that interested me in all this, was that I had no say in it. I didn't put a warning when I wrote it, and I wasn't told there'd be one before it went up. That, to my mind, is bordering on censorship. I should point out that I don't mind any of that. In fact, I am slightly proud of having FF's only content warning. (That I am aware of) My point is that I sometimes feel the need to put warnings on other stories, even though I generally disagree with their existence. Knowing that people might try to warn others away from what I'm writing has become a (very minor) concern.

The thing I think most important, is age-appropriate. You don't find torture in the children's section. But books are sorted by age in most shops anyway, at least between child-adult readers, so there's really no need to go into any more detail. If anything, content warnings can spoil the book for those who intend to read it. If you read 'suicide' on the blurb, then you can guess the fate of a character quite easily if their plotline leans that way.
Title: Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
Post by: Magnus Hedén on October 19, 2019, 08:27:21 PM
I think it goes without saying that any content warning should be put at the end of the story with just a link/reference at the beginning. Most people don't want to see them -- I certainly don't as they can spoil the plot. But as long as that's how it's done, I don't see a problem with them, and nothing I've read here has convinced me otherwise.