Back when I started in the IF blogosphere 10 years ago, people would write “Children Mentioned” at the top of a post if children were mentioned. Some people thought this was silly and there were a lot of comments or posts about how people should assume that parenting after infertility blogs might mention children. Some people thought this was good practice; if people weren’t up to reading a post about teething, they could click away.
I was in the latter category, and I put up “Children Mentioned” before posts that mentioned the twins. Over time, everyone stopped doing it, myself included. Most people knew how much I spoke about the twins, and either they weren’t bothered and would put up with the occasional post, or they were bothered and wouldn’t read my blog at all.
Plus, I realized that there were ways to give people a heads up about trigger warnings that fit naturally into the flow of the post. If you look at the Roundup each week, I try to mention a child in the description if there is a child in the post. If no child (or parenting itself) is mentioned in the blurb, it’s a pretty safe bet that you can click over and not encounter a story about a baby.
When I can’t figure out a way to weave it into the blurb, I write the words “trigger warning,” as I did for one of the posts last Friday.
While I am not upset when a post or movie or book or game comes without a trigger warning, I appreciate the creator taking the time to give consumers a warning before they dive into the experience. I think it shows a sign of respect between the creator and the audience, and it sends a clear message that the audience’s experience with the piece is important to the creator. It’s not that the opposite is true: that people who don’t post warnings don’t care about their audience. But I do see the inclusion of the word “trigger warning” to be a concrete way of saying, “I care.”
I care that my piece adds to your life instead of detracts from it.
I care that you can ready yourself if you need to ready yourself.
I care about what you’re going through, and I appreciate you taking the time to read my words or watch my film or play my game.
I care that you are a human being and not a bot, so I treat you like a human being with feelings and thoughts and baggage you may carry into an experience with what I created.
There are universal moments that need trigger warnings such as rape or hate speech. And then, within communities, there are specific moments that need trigger warnings. In our community, I think it’s loss as it is happening (as opposed to generally discussing the concept of loss) and babies. The absence of someone who was once here, and the existence of someone who is here.
I don’t know if we need to slap “Children Mentioned” at the top of every post on a parenting after infertility blog. I tend to agree at this point that the network is such that people generally know what they’re getting before they click over to read. (As opposed to when the community was so new that you were meeting new bloggers on a regular basis.) But I still support the idea of giving people a “trigger warning.” Just as a sign of respect. Because I care how they feel after they read a post.
Where do you fall on the spectrum of giving trigger warnings? Do you wish posts in the community still came with a “Children Mentioned” note at the top?