Just like spoiler alerts, I take trigger warnings pretty seriously. Say you have a really huge fear of spiders, and let’s say I write an article where hundreds of spiders pop out halfway through. Maybe it would be cool if I wrote something like, trigger: hundreds of spiders.
But people don’t use trigger warnings. I never know when one of my triggers is going to jump out at me, turning what should be a pleasant online experience into a twisted version of Russian roulette. It’s like, whenever I’m surfing the Internet, if feels as if I’m a little kid again, and I’m on the family computer playing Minesweeper, only I don’t know any of the rules, so why does the game always end abruptly after four or five random clicks? It’s a problem. Even serious trigger warnings are often all but ignored. But there are so many more triggers that barely get any attention. Here are 4 triggers that the Internet refuses to take seriously.
1. Really, really needing to pee
Whenever I read anything involving anybody that has to go to the bathroom, but can’t, I’m instantaneously triggered. I can feel my bladder starting to swell as I type this sentence. Having to pee really, really badly is no joke. And since all human beings have to pee several times a day, there are just so many opportunities throughout the course of everyday life where the need to go might present itself in a situation where it’s just not possible.
I’m thinking in particular about one time I was driving back from upstate with my dad. It was only about a three hour car ride, so when we stopped at a gas station right before hitting the road, I bought one of those ninety-nine cent giant cans of Arizona Green Tea. “You sure you want to drink that?” my dad asked. And I was pissed. Come on dad, I thought. I’m a grown man. I don’t need you second guessing what I should and shouldn’t put into my body. “I’m just saying, you’re probably going to have to pee.” And I just tried to act cool, not making it too obvious how upset I was. Because I know my body. I know that one green tea isn’t going to break the seal in only three hours. “I’m good dad, thanks.”
But it was like, immediately as we settled into the car, I felt the seatbelt buckle up over my lap, pinching just ever so slightly tighter than usual. I didn’t have to pee, but I could have peed if I made myself. I thought, should I go now? But no, I let pride get in the way. And forty-five minutes later, I really, really, really had to pee. But what could I do? My dad would have said, “I told you not to drink that iced tea.” And he’d never let me forget about it. That was a really tough car ride, and I’d appreciate a heads up if your Internet article is going to make me take a trip with my dad down memory lane. Seriously, I had to pee like five times since I started writing this.
2. Miracle Whip
I’m looking at you, cooking and recipe blogs. Here’s the thing, mayonnaise is the standard. If I’m clicking on a link promising me the best chicken salad sandwich I’ve ever had in my life, I’m assuming that it’s either going to have mayo, or it’s going to be one of those weird recipes that tries to push the whole avocado-instead-of-mayo thing, in which case I’ll never use one of your recipes again. But every once in a while, the fine folks at Kraft marketing get it in their heads to start paying bloggers to casually drop Miracle Whip instead of mayo. It’s not the same. It’s far from the same. I need a trigger warning, because Miracle Whip is disgusting, and it scarred me for life.
I can still see it so clearly. I was at a deli somewhere on a road trip. I asked for a sandwich, extra mayo. I unwrapped it and took a big bite, but something wasn’t right. What was that taste? And the texture, it felt kind of strange also, like what I imagine paint would feel like on my tongue if I put it in my mouth by the spoonful. Did a whole colony of algae somehow make it onto my cold cuts? I raised my head up from my sandwich to ask the deli guy what was wrong, but my mouth was glued shut. It was horrible. I couldn’t chew anymore, but it was like my mouth was paralyzed, like I couldn’t get my mouth to spit out what my taste buds were clearly rejecting.
“What’s wrong?” the deli guy asked me, noticing my visible distress. “Did I make your sandwich the wrong way? Did you want any more Miracle Whip? I put a lot on there just like you asked me.” I spent the rest of the day puking my brains out. Miracle Whip. Gross. That stuff’s not even real. It’s not mayonnaise. It’s a sandwich spread. It’s white. It looks like mayonnaise, from a distance anyway. Actually, no it doesn’t. It’s not even close. Trigger warning, please.
3. Grammar Nazis
If you’re planning on pointing out a grammatical error in regards to something that you read on the Internet, I’d really appreciate a trigger warning, so that way I know to disregard everything you have to say, and to unfriend and unfollow you from all forms of social media.
I get it, we all get it, you know the rules of the English language, and you’re not afraid to enforce them in a public setting. I just don’t understand it. If you spot someone using your when they should have written you’re, or they’re and there and their, and you’re sitting there thinking, ha, that idiot doesn’t know how to write, let me make a snarky comment at the expense of their mistake. Do you feel good about yourself afterward? Does it make you feel better knowing that somewhere out there on the Internet, there’s a person who doesn’t know everything that you know?
Just give me a heads up, is all I’m asking. Because I don’t have time to sit around and watch you get off at discouraging someone else from even attempting to write. We all make mistakes. That’s what spellcheck is theiy’re for. Get over it.
Come on, we need to give it a rest already. Seriously, I don’t even live there, but it’s like every time I say the word Brooklyn, my rent goes up something like two percent. Did you know that Brooklyn has become a global brand? That’s what every single news article about Brooklyn parrots back to me at least a dozen times. Brooklyn. So hot right now.
Trigger warnings about Brooklyn would save me so much time and money. Like if we’re making plans to hang out this weekend, and you start telling me about a really cool new brunch spot. Or an old-fashioned bowling alley that doesn’t have computers to keep track of your score. Or some new basketball team that just moved in from New Jersey. If it’s in Brooklyn, you’re just wasting my time. Because I’m not taking the G train, OK? I refuse.