There’s nothing quite like watching an addled crusade to get the juices flowing again. I cannot get through the Shakesville commenting guide and maintain a straight face. At issue is whether blogs that traffic in pain and abuse be appropriately denoted “safe spaces” with trigger warnings and compulsive moderation to make sure indelicate oafs who fail to approach the walking wounded with proper temerity don’t get away with it for a single fucking second.
Maybe it seemed a good idea at the time but safe spaces end up like eXtreme mindgropes, with serious hands-on evaluation and excessive analysis of thread commenters. If there’s a point to it, they’ve failed to get it across, since plenty of us see the only gratification in putting funny people down, as if to engender the same joylessness, shame and humiliation at large that is borne in solitude by abuse survivors, who from their pain have devolved into rigid scolds haranguing their guests to “check your privilege, fauxprogressive, you’re harming us and you don’t care.”
Harm is serious, and if it’s not happening should be denied. Of course “their blog, their rules” and all that, but spread that foolishness around and it takes on the air of provocation, which makes for a beautiful day in the neighborhood, arguing about the same old same old. Oh you may call it a non sequitur, until I use it to wash out your disrespecting mouth, never thought of that now didja? Abuse; it’s a terrain. Walk a mile in these moccasins and become extra spaycial.
Simply put, this fascinating interblog PC war will never end, because some of us progressives stand for political correctness and some of us progressives won’t stand for it a whit. That’s called individuation — the development of the individual from the general. Very good for mental health, not so good for the groupthink.
Oh sure, oppressive PC nannies have the lead right now, but I’m so old I remember when they were usurpers. Those were the days my friend. I thought they’d never end. Now it seems the best you can do is try to be clear about your stances, don’t misrepresent them and inadvertently create drama and betrayal when the unbelievably awful truth about your principles will out. You know what I mean, right?
Number one, I don’t hold with all these beliefs that being offended truly matters, and hope to never put guaranteed diminishing returns into anticipating and creating strategies to ward off Internet assholery, which is a feature, not a bug. It’s tempting, I understand the impulse but there’s no strategy for asshole prevention, just a tendency to get pissed off ten times a day, and no need to turn that into something else if you don’t despise your inner life. Though there will always be someone who says my god you are an angry person, and be quite persuasive about how and why you need to change that, but fuck them people, and never stop, every single day, like so.
All this, after a four month absence, trigger warnings, seriously?
I see I’m going to have to write in depth about this problem, maybe twice as much as I originally intended. They’re so ubiquitous it’s very easy to become inured to them, the climate they create. But I know writers who use trigger warnings can just as easily have the opposite effect and put off the very people they aim to chaperone. The sheer gall of it. What makes you qualified to inform me I can’t handle the subject matter?
Good point if I say so myself. What else?
It smells like a set up. Are you warning me or priming me?
It’s a directive? Trigger warning as a sneaky way to tell me how I should respond to your post.
And if I ignore the hint?
This is getting dark. It seems so very well-meaning. You should know about this trigger, dear, it’s attached to my gun. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Now, now. Trigger warnings are given to convey a self-protective, cautionary approach best taken to the post at issue: Brace yourself. What you’re about to read could better be very upsetting, frightening, disruptive, distressing, devastating, leave you feeling crippled, weak, needy and worthless, but hey, I get that, and I’m in your corner!
Someone is being manipulative. And if we want to get psychological about it we’d say they were playing *hot potato* with their neurosis. Toss it over, now you have it and I don’t, hooray for endless mindfucking.
Ignore all that, respond to the trigger warning as expected, no problem. Surprise us, and it’s off to the re-education camp for you. Some progressives think this is perfectly acceptable social policy and it can’t be overstated that some of us do not.
Those who do favor restricting speech will say it’s not about preference, aesthetics or mere offense, but preventable harm. Safe spaces are ruled with an iron fist, they say, to avoid the infliction of psychological damage, which, if true, gives them the moral high ground.
HTML Mencken objects to safe spaces on those very grounds, and refers to them as hellholes –
“Since the hellholes’ policies are about moral judgment, they are subject to moral judgment.”
He shreds through the whole charade, post after post. But he would, coming from the anti-safe space blog that so happens to be the safest afoot and number one scourge of high-minded liberal PC adherents.
Coincidence? Sadly, no.
Look, run a blog however you want. But to call groupthink therapeutic and say others don’t get it because they haven’t been traumatized is just asking for the smackdown.
That makes two of us. It’s not to champion free speech, or more level-headed comment moderation. What I am is territorial. I explained all this yesterday at a comedy blog. In no uncertain terms, I most certainly did, and repeat myself, with your forbearance:
I’ll say my piece now that this thread’s dead. I’ll never relinquish my own boundless contempt for Shakesville and Alas A Blog because I see them trivializing a horrifying psychiatric disorder that is already considered a joke among too many mental health providers. I am also one of “them” but they don’t speak for me. I find their safe spaces emotionally damaging, counterproductive toward recovery and easing re-traumatization and getting over it and shit.
I used to get triggered to where you couldn’t take me anywhere, diving under tables in restaurants and staying frozen under desks til the office cleared out, talking in a little baby voice or becoming violent and fighting with store clerks or some innocent who bumped me in passing. That’s PTSD. You lose the in between space that separates stimulus and response. Normally it’s stimulus>>thought>>response but when PTSD exists there’s nothing between the two, and there really needs to be; the ability to recognize and accurately perceive a stimulus is basic and that’s what PTSD ruins. When the stimulus/response is instantaneous, it’s impaired. People living with unresolved major trauma put current experience into the past and act as if a horrible thing is happening now and they don’t realize they’re doing this. They don’t know where they are. To be unable to tell when sounds/behaviors/facial expressions/and yes, words are a threat or benign is hell to live with, it needs to be repaired and there are ways of doing that.
Everyone I know who has sincerely worked on healing from trauma would laugh at the very fucking idea of a “safe space”, because number one we are beyond safe spaces, and second, trying to create a womblike social milieu promotes the continuing psychosis we’re trying to get over.
Recovery is about learning to discern the difference between a benign and threatening stimuli, and how to respond to each accordingly. This is broken in PTSD where everything is coming at you and all of it potentially threatening. Reactions to sounds, words, facial expressions, ringing phones and knocks on the door are often unpredictable, bizarre, disproportionate, hysterical, confusing, scary to experience and scary to witness, and come out of nowhere with a life of their own. The triggers are real, and the material being activated is meaningful, but it’s all happening inside, and that’s where the responsibility lies. Why is that so hard to grasp? I read those blogs and their trigger warnings and PTSD admonishments to everyone as if their speech is a factor in keeping the self-identified PTSD sufferer stable. Maybe the sufferer should be disturbed; PTSD is a serious mental illness.
Good therapy would have you re-engaging with life in all its noisome messiness and ambiguity, none of which carries a trigger warning. Being upset and staying with it. Building tolerance, getting stronger. But you have to pass through so much catastrophe without externalizing it, and that’s hard. Easier to say it’s you, Mencken, you’ve put me back in that horrible place I need to forget and you had better not ever do that again. But now I’ve abandoned me and made you the thing that needs attention. This is why I think what they do is so anti-therapeutic. Plus it’s lazy, no need for commitment to learning how to handle it, and the craziness is very difficult to overcome. The first step has to be in identifying who it belongs to, and I’ve yet to see an inkling of self-responsibility at those safe space blogs. It infuriates me that they’re so silly and superficial about what PTSD takes from people, and how they will ameliorate the damage with clever, wordy, linear debates about insensitive speech. I don’t see it. PTSD is a disorder, it creates disordered personalities, jumbled discourse, irrational paragraphs, regular meltdowns, if you have PTSD issues and you post regularly at a blog it’s going to show. They insult people who really do struggle with chronic re-traumatization by presenting themselves as what that looks like. And by arguing that recovery is about suppressing particular stimuli rather than confronting what it is that particular stimuli activates within. The triggers start something inside. We can ignore the words that started the process. It’s my mind at issue, not what goes on in yours. That is, if we’re talking about PTSD, which is totalizing. I don’t know what to make of it, certain female-oriented bloggers exploit a faddish disorder to legitimize garden variety irritants and use it to prop up their absolute moralism? Shocking.