Symphonic Rayne

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On Content & Trigger Warnings

Trigger warnings were originally implemented with a very specific and very clear function: to tag content that contained traumatic material for the benefit of people who experience panic attacks, PTSD flashbacks, and other responses to such material. Some rape victims, for example, would have difficulty watching a scene in a movie where a rape was depicted, or encountering a rape scene in a book.

Content warnings, however, are something different. They were implemented as a theoretically value-neutral way to provide information about the contents of something to allow people to decide if they wanted to engage with it. While they can also serve as trigger warnings, they don’t necessarily have to, and they’re not always about trauma, though they may be about larger societal issues that cause individual harm.

For example, content warnings might discuss the fact that a book is about racism, or includes violence against animals. People of color who are exhausted by racism might decide not to read that book, not necessarily because it would cause a physiological response, but because they get enough of that in the real world. People who would prefer not to read about violence against animals, likewise, could choose not to read a book that warns them about that kind of content — or might skip the content they find unsettling if it’s not central to the plot.

In practice, this game requires that a tag of -CW- be attached to the front of the Topic Title if there is anything within that even MIGHT require it. I would rather see this “over used” than not used enough. There will be more about Topic Titles later in this document.

Credit: SE SMITH

The following is a suggested (but by no means exhaustive) list of potential content warnings:

  • Rape and Sexual Assault
  • Abuse (physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual)
  • Child abuse/pedophilia
  • Animal cruelty or animal death
  • Self-injurious behavior (self-harm, drug addiction, eating disorders, etc.)
  • Suicide
  • Gore or body horror
  • Graphic depictions of real world war
  • Sex and sexual activity (including BDSM)
  • Needles
  • Depiction of pornography (including child pornography)
  • Incest (including any and all elements of romantic or sexual relationships between family, tonal in theme, thought, or activity)
  • Kidnapping (forceful deprivation of/disregard for personal autonomy)
  • Death or dying
  • Pregnancy/Childbirth
  • Miscarriages/Abortion
  • Mental illness

(Thank you to Jill Helding for putting this resource together.)