November 15, 2019, 04:33:20 PM

Author Topic: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?  (Read 724 times)

Online Magnus Hedén

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Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
« Reply #15 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?
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
« Reply #16 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.

Offline isos81

Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2019, 12:00:35 PM »
Uhmm, may I ask what trigger warning is :-[
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline Eclipse

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Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
« Reply #18 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.
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

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Offline Matthew

Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
« Reply #19 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.

Offline Rostum

Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
« Reply #20 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.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
« Reply #21 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?

Offline Rostum

Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
« Reply #22 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
Spoiler for Hiden:
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.

Online Alex Hormann

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Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
« Reply #23 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.
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Online Magnus Hedén

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Re: Are Trigger warnings getting out of control?
« Reply #24 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.
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