On trigger warnings

Pulled my lines from an IRC log.

14:40 < nydwracu> i think the concern is thede-signaling value-loaded in part by perception of an increasing trend of handling the past with kid gloves
14:43 < nydwracu> the implicit thing here is that it’s tied in to a general cultural trend, like there was that publisher that printed kid-gloves warnings on editions of kant and the constitution and so on
14:43 < nydwracu> http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/06/09/publishing-company-putting-warning-label-constitution/

14:47 < nydwracu> the value of [esp. seemingly neutral] repetition in propaganda / meme-propagation
14:47 < nydwracu> so you could hypothetically stick “tw: racism” on something and it would then be associated with racism, and if you stick enough trigger warnings on enough old books then that would act as a sort of fnord reinforcing “old = bad scary things”
14:48 < nydwracu> i don’t think that’s their real objection, it might be thede-signaling
14:48 < nydwracu> with nothing more to it — “this is a move by an elthede that shows that they have enough power to pull it off, we don’t want them showing that they have enough power to pull it off because if they can show that then they demonstrate that they have enough power to”
14:49 < nydwracu> which could be responded to by co-opting it except it’s elthedish so of course they won’t, disgust reaction etc etc

14:55 < nydwracu> fnord = “word with usually-vague negative connotations that bleed over and associate those connotations onto the things it’s attached to without being as obvious about it as an applause light and without consciously registering as a mechanism for connotation transference”
14:55 < nydwracu> not even word — any block of text
14:56 < nydwracu> so if you put trigger warnings on books for not conforming to progressivism in some way and leave them off books that do then maybe, even for people to whom the warnings aren’t directly useful, the vague worrying feeling of “there are bad scary things in here” would bleed over onto the book / make itself more salient than otherwise
14:56 < nydwracu> leading to a subtle shift in disgust reaction patterns that benefits progressivism
14:58 < nydwracu> the effect where hitting people with negative terms/associations can bleed over and be measured later

15:04 < nydwracu> don’t trigger warnings *intrinsically* carry the potential fnord-functionality? “warning: NSFW which probably means tits or something” is much less negative than “warning: rape and gratuitous violence”
15:06 < nydwracu> fnord functionality = it can be used to bring about potentially-politically-loaded vague negative connotations / disgust reactions
15:07 < nydwracu> if you assume that things that don’t conform to progressive ideals are potentially triggering — i.e. if you make a consistent practice of “tw: racism” “tw: sexism” and so on
15:07 < nydwracu> first, that reinforces the perceived reality of the concept in the trigger
15:08 < nydwracu> second, if most of the non-progressive things have trigger warnings and most of the progressive things don’t, that could reinforce purity-reactions to progressivism relative to not-progressivism
15:08 < nydwracu> third, there are pre-existing purity/disgust-reactions that this ties into
15:09 < nydwracu> whig history: “in the past everything was bad and scary. old things are bad and scary. as time goes on everything gets less bad and scary. you should be scared of things that remind you of things in the past”

15:16 < nydwracu> the power play problem — “when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse”
15:18 < nydwracu> if an advocacy group gets a policy implemented, that necessarily signals that the advocacy group is powerful enough to get the policy implemented
15:18 < nydwracu> for ‘advocacy group’ read ‘coordinated-yet-decentralized weird cloudy thing that is sort of a faction’


2 responses to “On trigger warnings

  1. Pingback: More on trigger warnings | nydwracu niþgrim, nihtbealwa mæst

  2. Anthony May 27, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Hypothesis: Trigger warnings are there because progressives are afraid the fnords within the texts aren’t sufficient. This is especially true when dealing with non-progressive texts, but the trigger warning seems to have originated, or at least first spread widely, in internal progressive discourse.

    So trigger warnings are there to pre-emptively prime progressive people for the proper emotional responses, to ensure that they don’t actually think about what’s being said.

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