Imagine having a traumatic experience, then being reminded of it in a separate experience, reacting accordingly, but being criticized for it. That’s how the term “trigger,” or “triggered,” became a joke or meme prior to entering the mainstream, even though it’s neither.
Triggered is used in professional therapy settings to describe feelings of panic and pain, but has now taken on a new meaning for neurotypical people, or people who don’t have mental illness or abnormalities.
But this massive cultural shift is based on the mocking of people who have been deemed too sensitive. When people use the term “triggered” in a joking manner, it reminds me of nights of panic attacks, migraines and the feeling of being suffocated.
Whenever I hear that word used mockingly on campus, I feel unsafe. It makes me unsure of how my peers would react to me having a noticeable panic attack or depressive swing in class. Students should never feel unsafe at school, and if they do, a problem is evident. The feeling of danger is quite a fright, it’s probably the scariest thing I’m going to experience this Halloween.
It makes me wonder how someone could possibly find that funny. According to a recent Branham poll, 64.2 percent of the student population find the triggered meme not offensive whatsoever. Many students who are mentally ill however, use trigger words in a nonsensical matter in order to cope with their trauma. For example, these students may say ‘triggered’ in response to getting a bad test grade or tripping in order to normalize the intense feelings they experience when being triggered, such as having a panic attack, depressive swing, anxiety attack, etc.
It’s dismissive when people who don’t suffer from mental illness use the language in a way that portrays the mentally ill as weak and inferior; it belittles our experiences as “just a joke.” If you still think of it as “just a joke,” then you’re part of the problem. Suffering and pain is never a joke, and using words in a manner that make students feel unsafe is never a joke.
Be wary of your words and how they affect your peers. Most importantly, ensure that the costumes, scares, and movies are the most frightening things this Halloween and not the offensive words coming from your mouth.