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The Shift of Meaning Regarding the Term 'Trigger Warning'

At some point in the last few years, the phrase "trigger warning," or abbreviation as "TW" online, has recently taken the forefront in millennials' vocabulary. A trigger warning is simply a way of letting people know the content they're about to consume may contain triggers, giving people a chance to avoid that content if they wish. Specifically, a topic or situation that can trigger someone is extremely dependent. However, people consider some triggers more common as they may elicit an intense emotional response. 

Individuals can add the phrase "trigger warning" before any difficult or casual situation. For example, "Trigger warning, your ex-boyfriend just entered the party," or "trigger warning, today in class, we will be talking about sexual assault." 

I will confine the term to an academic sphere to avoid the casual, more Generation Z method of using the phrase trigger warning. More specifically, the original purpose of using trigger warnings regards flagging content that prompts trauma. In more recent years, the newly found criticism claims trigger warnings are blanketing students' intellectual growth and emotional development. I am in favor of using trigger warnings while acknowledging, even partially agreeing with, the judgment against the term that asserts it is restricting academic freedom and increasing sensitivity. Trigger warnings are practical, but assets in academia should not necessarily enforce the term because there is already enough threat to academic flexibility through an overbearing administration.

By arguing in favor of using the term trigger warnings, vulnerable students may be able to employ effective anxiety management techniques by meditating or taking prescribed medication with appropriate signs in place. From the perspective of a professor or teacher, saying the phrase merely requires one extra sentence and does not distract nor impact the true purpose behind her message. Some argue that trigger warnings enable rational responses rather than proving to be a method of coddling the upcoming generation. 

On the contrary, while it may not distract a teacher, without warning, the upcoming conversation can temporarily render people unable to focus regardless of their desire to do so. In other words, trigger warnings allow students who are unaffected to ignore the topic because they can claim sensitivity to any issues. Therefore, there is no arguing against students' determination to be exempt from a conversation because it is inappropriate to tell someone what they are and are not allowed to feel. 

However, trigger warnings at large can counteract this because it defies all criticism in proving students' mental health and post-warning focus. Logistically, controversy surrounds any topic, especially since trigger warnings have become an extremely political issue. In this day and age, mental health is acknowledged and prioritized. So, parallelling trigger warnings to an increase in mental health is a strong argument.

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