Content & Trigger Warning Importance
Sometimes people need a couple tips when it comes to what is and isn’t appropriate to bring up in conversating and/or what is appropriate message content to share.
This entirely depends on the person you are communicating with. What people deem appropriate or not is entirely subjective. What I want to make clear today is what one singular person deems appropriate can change according to time, place/company held and mood. This is where Content or Trigger warnings become important.
To highlight the importance of this I’ll share a recent experience with you. Last week I received a video via message with no explanation. At the time I was sitting on the deck in the middle of a quite significant panic attack (you know the one where you cry and forget to breathe and have to mentally/consciously manage your breathing and convince yourself you’re safe and it’s all okay). I opened my phone to play a game to help distract my brain and saw the message and clicked on the video to view it. The video in question was an EXTREME BDSM act. I physically started retching purely because is added to my heightened state of stress. Normally I would think nothing of it and just say something along the lines of “wow, that was intense.” Today was different as at that moment I was not in the headspace. This could be true for any person you may send explicit or extreme content to.
If you are ever unsure and want to air on the side of caution, use a Content Warning so that the person can choose when or if they may view what you’ve sent. An example of a Content Warning/Trigger Warning (CW/TW) would be: “Content warning: BDSM, Blood, Piercing” or “Trigger warning: Sexual Content”. Give the person an idea of what they may be opening. It is somewhat of a consent violation sending unsolicited explicit content. People you know well and for a long time you can dance around that but remember to use Content Warnings.
As a rule of thumb for most things consent related, “if you don’t know, ask.” With regards to messaging and message content I would amend that to just always asking, especially for explicit content. Something as simple as “Hey, I was wondering if you would like to view this video which has (insert video content here) in it?” By doing this you reduce the risk of sending something that may be very inappropriate for that person’s current headspace or company they are in.
Further to this if a person says “not now” you must respect that and not send anything explicit to this person, a safe time to wait is 24 hours if you still want to share however you must ask again. Unless of course they say “no” or “I’m not interested”. It would be a consent violation to ignore this.
Consent extends to all communication avenues including all online messaging apps and sites. Peoples ability to process and cope with all and any information is dependant on their state of mind and where they are etc. So always ask if the time and content is appropriate.
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