DISCUSSION: The Double Standards Of Trigger Warnings On Episode

I’ve debated with myself a bit over whether or not to make this a thread but I think with the abundance of threads pertaining to such topics in the last year or so, that it’s an important discussion to have.

Trigger warnings should always be used in my opinion as far as Episode is concerned when you’re dealing with potentially triggering content. It’s a common courtesy for one and for two episode recommends it themselves in their own guidelines. I’m never going to argue with someone saying a trigger warning should be used. Heck, there are stories by authors I love who have content I think needs a trigger warning. I try not to be biased in what I expect from authors or base things on anything personal with them and I hope that people who are my friends/readers would hold me accountable too.

However, can someone please explain to me why the same courtesies aren’t being expected of every author? When I see someone (reader, a fellow author, etc.) demanding a story have a trigger warning, going after it for “problematic themes” iregardless of how problematic the story actually is (because I’m sorry but there have been plenty of times certain things have been blown out of proportion, at least to me) while being the same people who will praise other stories with problematic content that need trigger warnings because those people are conveniently their friends to me it screams hypocrisy. You can’t demand things in one story and then turn around and conveniently ignore the problematic content in another and promote it at the same time.

While I might not agree with them and may even openly say so I still understand their right to find the actually problematic content in stories problematic. What irks me is when the same criticizers conveniently ignore stories by certain authors that have actual problematic themes and truly need trigger warnings or h*ll even a mature warning at the very least and promote the crap out of them.

I’m not going to mention authors or stories by name as that’s not the point of this thread but I can tell you all right now there are two stories I’ve read all the episodes or at least part of very recently that had problematic/concerning content that didn’t include trigger/content warnings. These same stories are being reccomended heavily by some of the same people who have gone after others for their use of what they’ve deemed problematic content.

I guess my main question is: Why aren’t we all being held to the same standards?

This isn’t a thread to go after those specific authors or stories (which is why I didn’t mention them by name) but I can’t be the only one noticing this. I’d almost guarantee there’s quite a few of you noticing the same things I am. Why the hypocrisy?

There’s no questions for this topic, but feel free to respond with your own opinions on this or any personal experiences you’ve had with this either as a reader or a writer. Please be courteous and don’t bash other authors or readers as that’s not the point of this thread. I’m truly just tired of the hypocrisy and the double standards being expected by certain people depending on who you are and who you’re friends with.

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I also shared this on my insta stories but some time ago I made the terrible decision to read a story that ended up being highly triggering to me. Bear in mind that I’m a grown adult that the majority of the time can handle their trigger but the fact that the story wasn’t in horror plus the complete lack of triggers (even Episode’s general ones) caught me completely unprepared. The story was full of gore, blood and other things I won’t mention so I had to click off immediately. When I brought this up I got told the good, old “If you don’t like it don’t read it” as if I wanted to be triggered or something.
Yet again this is the same community that sends me graphic videos about muslims being t*rtured so, are we surprised?

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Yes! That’s the situation with one of the stories I’m referencing. It’s in drama when it should really probably be in horror or thriller, there’s a good half dozen triggering topics and zero warning for any of it. Normally I’d brush it off or just be silently annoyed but since said author should know better based on who I know their friends are it’s hard for me to just ignore it.

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Glad to know that triggering stories without TW are the norm :grinning:
DM me :eyes:

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I know isn’t it great :heart_eyes:

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Basically piggybacking off what you’re saying, since you know we’ve talked in depth about this in the DMs. But your friend doing it doesn’t make it okay. If you’re going to hold people to certain standards, your friends/people you like are included in that. Otherwise, it just looks like petty jealousy and not truly caring about the lack of warnings/offensive jokes.

All I know is, I would tell my friends if something bothered me in their story and I’d be completely understanding if they came to me about mine. That’s what a true friendship is :woman_shrugging:t3: If we want to truly fix some of the problematic stories in this community, wouldn’t our own colleagues be where to start?

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Exactly! My main issue is some of the same people sharing said story are the same ones who will also go after stories for a single scene they deem problematic. Not saying a problematic scene shouldn’t be pointed out or discussed, but it truly reeks of hypocrisy when someone can point out a single scene in one story they don’t like but fail to mention/notice the half dozen problematic things in another by someone they do like.

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bumping

bump.

As an author who writes about triggering content (mental illness and abuse) I would be interested to know which stories you are referring to.

If you feel they are inappropriate, have you addressed it with the author or reported your concerns to episode? It’s important for authors to be held accountable for what they write. If what you are saying is true and there are problematic themes circulating on episode, what is being done about it?

Another important thing to note is the difference between needing trigger warnings or content warnings.

Trigger warnings should be used to prevent someone who has had a traumatic experience from being exposed to something that might trigger a physical and/or mental reaction. The word “trigger” is important because it is used in terms of mental illness and trauma eg PTSD or abuse. “Triggered” and “offended/upset” are not the same thing.

Content warnings should be used for things which might upset readers but are not linked to traumatic experiences eg referring to a phobia (blood) or nudity and foul language.

Also, what is triggering or upsetting to one person, another will not consider it triggering or upsetting. Things can be missed and if an author isn’t informed then they don’t understand. So if you have the concern, it’s best that you share it with the appropriate people, because those recommending it weren’t affected by it but you were. Your feelings are valid because it’s something that has upset you, they are just different from others who have read it and recommended it. And it works the other way, you feel friends stories have been condemned for trivial things, however it has upset people and their feelings are also valid.

The idea of double standards is tricky because not only are people affected differently by different topics, it’s also not always what is written about but how it is written. Is it appropriately represented, or is it offensive and upsetting? Does it offer awareness and support or is it misrepresenting and ridiculing the topic? Most importantly is it romanticising and normalising upsetting and offensive topics?

I guess a good question is, if people aren’t being held to the same standards, what are we as a community doing about it? Cancel culture doesn’t work, it spreads more hate. My personal opinion is we all have a duty of care in this community, so if you find something inappropriate it’s best to either address it calmly with an author and/or report it to episode. Episode’s way of reviewing stories allows a lot of things to slip through the cracks, unless things are reported and concerns shared, “problematic” themes and stories will continue to circulate.

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As mentioned above I’m not going to directly mention stories here, but yes the one was reported to episode and it didn’t have any content warnings whatsoever. I’m sorry but when you’re using excessive amounts of bl**d at the very least a mature contents warning needs to be issued. The story in question didn’t have that. There was no warning whatsoever for a lot of things and one of my closest friends on here has a bl*d trigger.

I made this thread because a certain group of individuals have literally bullied people for liking stories with “problematic content” but some of the same people are spreading this particular story, with wayyy more than just a bl**d trigger mind you, like wildfire. Judging by who the author is friends with they should have known to add in a content warning.

The issue, Jewels, is that the people who “do the complaining about problematic themes” aren’t holding every author accountable and are picking and choosing what to get upset over. It’s not my job to explain to people who have literally tried to cancel authors for scenes they blew out of proportion that they need to add content warnings. They should already be well aware of this by now.

Of course, I totally understand that you don’t want to mention stories here. I’m a big advocate for mental health and want Episode to be a safe environment so if you ever feel like sharing you can dm me. If I read any that concern me I always message an author or report it depending on the concerns.

It’s such a grey area I guess. What’s excessive to you may not be excessive to me. Is a content warning required for any amount of blood? I personally don’t think so. In a vampire story for example, discussion or visual representation of blood, blood drinking is implied, so does this require a warning? Again, personally I don’t think so. For a story where murders happen and the crime scene is shown with blood when the description talks about the murder being a key plot point, should this have a content warning? I’m not sure to be honest, murder is implied so it’s expected. It is a real grey area and depending on someone’s sensitisation to a theme, they may not feel the need to include a warning.

Also are you requesting that the author states any themes which viewers may find upsetting because mainstream media (certainly in country) doesn’t do that. Most commonly, it will be a content warning that states “mature themes” and “content some viewers may find upsetting” and how helpful is that really? I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be included I’m just saying that having a “mature themes” warning would not stop your friend coming across a story containing blood.

Interestingly, there are some great discussions and articles about not including trigger and content warnings because it encourages avoidance. Psychologists, people diagnosed with mental health conditions and others, have looked at the importance of exposure as a way to manage and process trauma or fears and there are some great articles discussing this. Obviously, with the nature of the Episode app and it’s younger audience, this is not hugely appropriate, I just personally find it interesting. For example, censoring the word blood doesn’t change the fact that is what is being discussed. We all have blood in our veins, in life it’s pretty unavoidable so minor exposure such as discussions like this are positive in supporting people around their fears and upset.

I understand what you are saying about people calling out problematic stories then supporting stories with problematic themes but without context, the hypocrisy isn’t clear (obviously I don’t mean sharing examples, it’s just an a observation). Do the stories that are condemned and supported share a common theme or do the themes vary? Do they both have the same in depth discussion/depiction of the problematic theme?
It comes from what certain people find upsetting, to what extent the upsetting content is shown and the way it is addressed (respectfully or not). If a theme is uncomfortable but discussed in a respectful, supportive way without being romanticised or ridiculed, is it problematic? Or is it just shedding light on some real life, upsetting topics? There are some topics that just don’t belong on a children’s app though and this is when reporting of problematic stories becomes so important.

There really can’t be a hard and fast rule about content that could be triggering or upsetting to people without removing it altogether. It’s about the context in which it is shown.

I have had people tell me they could not continue reading my stories because they found the characters’ experiences triggering but they went on to tell me how pleased they are that I have written a story addressing these topics in a supportive and respectful way. Not one person has told me my stories don’t belong on the app (they address anxiety, depression, suicide, abuse, schizophrenia, with nods to abusive parents and neglect) and I believe it’s because of the way I have written them and the intention to offer support and spread awareness.

I understand that you are upset and you feel there is a double standard but the truth is the same theme written in a different way can change a person’s response to it. These people you are upset with and feel have double standards have clearly been affected differently by different stories with similar themes, be it the way it was written or to the extent it was discussed/shown. It’s not a double standard, it’s just a different emotional response, which people are entitled to have.

But yes, a lack of trigger warnings for things that could provoke intense psychological and physiological responses are needed. Content warnings for things that could potentially be upsetting are also required. Hopefully, advising an author about this can help with that.

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Hey, Jewels, I don’t have time to read the entire thing right now and reply but just wanted to say that I think having a mature content/themes warning would have been a lot better than nothing.

I totally understand. It’s just something I have an interest in and a passion for :sweat_smile::joy:

With the due respect, as someone who went through trauma related to bld and who gets heavily triggered by it, the last thing I want is to get triggered by a kids story because an author didn’t want to add INT. WARNING - BOTH. This is all it takes. It seems to be a trend to write horror stories, put them in the wrong genre and not add any trigger whatsoever, how am I supposed to know that my trigger will be in it? It’s not my job to go around reading stories, getting triggered by them and “kindly inform the author that they made me relive an extremely traumatic experience”. As you said what’s triggering to you, isn’t triggering to me, so when in doubt add a generic tw.
And yes, vampire stories 99% of the times have a heavy use of bl
d which is one of the reasons why I don’t read them but they’re not the only stories that use them, I’ve seen literal comedies with no trigger warnings that had bl**d and dad bodies. When I bring this up to the authors, the answer is always the same “If you don’t like it don’t read it”.
Reliving traumatic experiences is extremely exhausting, it broke my heart to even read that you were implying that people like me should be forced to to “get over trauma”. I have a therapist for this, when I read a story I want to log off, not to relive the moment where I was literally about to d
e.
It’s so weird to me to see you defending this to be honest, I read your stories (which by the way I extremely love) and you have even more than necessary trigger warnings, so I don’t understand how you could say that they’re not necessary

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Honestly, if an author is not willing to invest a few seconds providing a warning to readers that is just stupid as hell. Even saying “warning this story contains mature themes and strong language” means a lot to some readers. Like you go out of your way to code but you cannot write a few lines such as “trigger warning - the following scenes/story contains themes of violence, gore, etc.”? Having to relieve trauma through media is tough and no readers should be blamed for their trauma as well as choosing to read a story. When one chooses to read something, it is for their entertainment and the least an author can do is give a warning. It is so reductive to say “if you don’t like it don’t read it”, since it is such a reductive argument my response to people who say that is bruh.

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Firstly, at no point did I say people should “get over trauma” that’s is unfair of you to suggest I would say such a thing. I referenced articles I have read that suggest mild exposure can help process trauma. I also said Episode wasn’t the place for this.

I also said that content and trigger warnings should be used, I whole heartedly agree. But authors may also miss a trigger/content warning because it hasn’t affected them and then someone needs to tell them. I also suggested reporting to Episode so you didn’t have to speak with an author.

The “don’t like it, don’t read it” message is unfortunate, but again I didn’t mention this and don’t support it. I always listen to people’s concerns because people’s feelings are valid. Trigger/content warnings serve as the heads up to people that this isn’t the story for them, so it should be included. I just don’t see how a generic content warning can help as it doesn’t tell you the themes that are present because most of the stories on the app could have this warning and it loses its meaning. To me a content/trigger warning should name the themes present.

Please don’t open a thread of this nature if you are unwilling to discuss it.

There isn’t necessarily a double standard, there are just different emotional responses to different depictions of these themes. This is my professional opinion as a counsellor. But I am always open to hearing from people who have such experiences. Because of this I will think more about blood as theme which is upsetting, it has never been something I have thought about as although I don’t like blood, it isn’t upsetting to me. I will be mindful from now on.

What am I defending? That people have different responses to stories and themes? Because I have clearly said that trigger and content warnings should be included, authors should be held accountable and stories should be reported.

I’m sorry if I have upset you, this was never my intention. This is an interesting idea and I wanted to contribute.

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I wholeheartedly agree. When it’s missed and someone addresses it with the author to receive that response it is disappointing and infuriating. If an author doesn’t listen to concerns the only other thing that can be done is reporting the story.

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In a storytelling app where even cursing is forbidden, there’s absolutely no excuse to not add even a generic trigger warning. Bld has to be probably the most common trigger out there, I cannot even believe that someone would add a bunch of bld overlays and be like “Yeah, why would people be triggered by this?”.
Why would you cite such an inhumane article in a contest like this? Especially if you don’t agree with it? Sorry, but it’s kinda late for the apologies as that phrase by itself revived the worst memories. What type of articles do counselors even read? Forcing people to watch trauma just to work through it? What the actual hell?!? This is literal torture

Also

That’s a no. Everyone who adds overlays of blood in addition to the ones Episode already has needs a tw. The app is PG13, you’re an adult, you can’t compare yourself to someone who’s barely a teenager