Navigating the internet in the age of ‘TW’

In some publications a “trigger warning” may appear at the beginning of certain articles. These are to warn that the articles contain disturbing themes that may trigger traumatic memories for sufferers. An example of a trigger warning is: “TRIGGER WARNING: This content deals with an account of sexual assault and may be triggering to some people.

From Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trauma_trigger#Trigger_warning

Unlike the ubiquitous ‘NSFW’ (not safe for work) warning that generally denotes graphic imagery of some sort, TW often accompanies text post (though it covers the whole gamut of internet content), letting readers know that a difficult and potentially distressing topic is about to come up.

This is a very difficult topic to cover. In recent years, the trigger warning has evolved into a great way to discuss potentially upsetting topics without censorship or restriction, whilst giving people an informed choice on whether they want to continue reading. It’s an idea that I fully support, when it’s used appropriately.

However, now ‘TW’ has become a commonplace concept, I can’t help but feel it has become a form of censorship, that diminishes it’s true purpose.

Recently, I have witnessed a popular YouTuber repeatedly scolded for tweeting an unlabelled Instagram complaining about a cat scratch, because someone who self harmed might have seen it. An American journalist received a barrage of tweets asking him to stop posting links to pictures of food, because he’s followed by people with eating disorders.

As previously stated, this is an incredibly difficult topic to write fairly. It isn’t for me to say what people should and shouldn’t find offensive/upsetting, or what is more important to other people’s lives and well-being. I have always despised articles that claim that this or that online movement has ‘gone too far’ or cares about things too much when this or that cause is more important.

This isn’t about whether trigger warnings for #foodporn are more important for those on rape discussions or whatever. It’s the problem that people are taking the idea of TW and using it to censor the online behaviour of others, especially online influencers such as writers or YouTubers. It’s being used as an insidious form of attack, disguised as educating others on the proper etiquette of the web.

 

I originally wrote the above paragraphs some time ago, but left this mouldering in my draft folder, unsure as to whether I was taking this in the right direction. However, I recently discovered this article in the New Statesman ‘Why I don’t agree with trigger warnings’ in which writer Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett makes some very similar points to mine, from the point of view of someone with PTSD. It’s a great article, well worth reading.

This kind of online behaviour treads a difficult path. Trigger Warnings are a useful tool in not having to censor topics, but they aren’t an all powerful form of protection, nor are they, as Cosslett points out, a way of telling others how they should feel, think and behave online.

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Twitter as a Tool to ‘Work Things Through’

Oh dear, a new blog post idea that I didn’t even list on my update! Not to mention two posts in one day, what is this?

 

However, in my last post, I embedded a number of tweets about a potential post topic that I was struggling with. This isn’t the normal way that I use Twitter, I have always regarded it as a way to communicate to other people directly. When I need to talk about something in any kind of depth, it would go in this blog or other places. I feel that this has made me forget one important fact about twitter, it is also often referred to as a ‘microblog’.

Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read short 140-characters text messages, called “tweets”. – Wikipedia article on Twitter

I’ve written before on how blogs are a way of organising your thoughts, not just a way to communicate them to others. Interestingly, I recently came across some tweets from prominent beauty/entertainment YouTube Albinwonderland, where she noted that twitter was her way of ‘working through thoughts and issues’ in a series of tweets, as she could update her thought progression in real time. She commented that she didn’t like to do that on her blog, as it was too easy for people to take parts out of context and repost them in a way that misrepresented her.

I’ve never really used Twitter in this way as I’m scared of spamming people, so I have never taken advantage of it as a way to ‘work through’ problems to a conclusion, with or without the interjections of others. But it is clearly a very important part of the service, and perhaps something I need to remember when using it.

Quick Update Post – Social Media Translators, Difficult Planning and Editing Fun

I haven’t posted here in a while for a variety of reasons, which means I have ended up with a big backlog of posts and I’m not even sure which to write about first! So I thought I would do a brief summary of what’s up in the Clare-related digital world, as well as setting out what blogs I will know have to make myself do (because I said that I would.)

  • Social Media Jargon Guide – I’ve already written about my work on social media strategy at Willow Wood Hospice. Their social media engagement has gone up so much and I’ve been able to try all sorts of exciting things like boosted Facebook posts (5,000 views on a Fundraising event post for £9.00? Don’t mind if I do!) but I’ve decided to put together a social media jargon guide for some of the other team members. It’ll be a word document and once it’s up I’ll post a link here so anyone else can use it if they need to.
  • Online Community Issues – I’ve decided to go back to the roots of this blog and start writing a little more about online socialising, fan communities etc. This actually proved pretty hard, there are a number of issues I’m interested in but actually putting together a well written post can be scary. I know that I’m not any kind of expert or source of knowledge, but I would never want to cover a topic and miss an important argument (see below)

 

Video Editing – Is something I’ve been doing a lot of recently, creating videos for Willow Wood Hospice. I have started making a post on the editing workflow techniques that I learned in University, and how I sometimes have to throw them out of the window if the video demands it!

I also have so many more ideas, one on online communities and peer support, one on advertising charity through social media, a few ideas on reviewing apps, which is an ideasI’ve talked about this before, but never known where to start. So hopefully this blog will be back up at full steam. I guess it’s good to take a break as looking back I was starting to struggle for ideas (and in my defence, I was also away with the Rona Trust, a youth sailing project I volunteer with), but leaving it too long makes it hard to get into the swing of things.