“In The Real World”

I keep being baffled by people complaining about how “there are not trigger warnings in the real world though! so I’m doing you a favor by triggering you!”

Do…they think we don’t live in the real world?

The phrase “the real world” is usually used in comparison to the Internet.

This always brings two things to mind for me:

1. The concerning fact that these people think online isn’t real.

Unless you’re playing a single player video game, you’re online interacting with actual people, with actual lives…they are real, and when not role-playing, the interactions are all real. The space is real in a social sense–it’s with real people, some with real trauma, and all with real boundaries.

The idea that many people think the Internet as a whole is not real is very disturbing– if it’s not real, who cares if people get hurt, because they’re…imaginary? That’s a really dangerous paradigm.

2. People who ask for trigger warnings have–somehow surprisingly to a lot of people–experienced being triggered in “the real world” many, many times already. And still are experiencing that, even with safe spaces and trigger warnings existing.

Do they think that we all stepped onto some trauma boat, were traumatized in some  way, stepped back on land, immediately went home and plugged our brains into some kind of software where our consciousnesses only exist in a handful of online forums? Of course we know that the world is triggering. Asking for a break from that isn’t insisting that each person go out and make sure the entire world is safe for every person.

We can’t even warn for every trigger–often triggers are mundane things like roses or ceiling fans or goldfish–The whole point is “Hey if this is going to ruin the day of a large number of people, why don’t I take a few seconds to prevent that?” and “Hey I’d like for trauma survivors to be able to access the very random content of certain websites without having to mentally brace themselves literally all the time.” It’s basic consideration.

It’s fast, can usually become a habit fairly quickly, and doesn’t cost you anything to do. Yet people resist it–sometimes for understandable reasons like being too traumatized themselves to process, or feeling that their similarly big triggers (like colonialism and war) are ignored–but the ones going on about “but the real world” usually do it out of arrogance. They act like the above two facts aren’t true–like we’re imaginary or haven’t lived outside the internet.

That’s impossible. As far as I know, no one has invented full virtual reality where you only exist online–so why do these people think we only exist online?

That misconception is their problem, not mine.

How about instead of saying is ridiculous to expect people to take 5 seconds to write warnings sometimes, that it’s ridiculous to expect people to help people maintain the illusion that the internet is full of imaginary people and there are no consequences for anything they do there?

If you want that, go play the sims. This is the real world, and sometimes in the real world people want to be considerate to massive numbers of people who’ve faced violence, often still are facing violence–in the real world.


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