Are trigger warnings spoilers? Short answer, no.
I saw someone screaming this on Twitter when I am writing this (in August) so I decided to pick up my laptop and write up a discussion post which may be controversial. I also had some 60-year-old man comment on my review and tell me that triggers are ruining people or something like that, so I am fired up. If you’re someone who thinks that trigger warnings are spoilers, this discussion will have spoilers for All The Bight Places, One of Us Is Lying and Thirteen Reasons Why. Keep that in mind if you do choose to read ahead.
Trigger warnings are something that need to be included in day to day lives when it comes to the media we choose to consume. A lot of people see these things as the world growing more sensitive. However, people have always had triggers and been affected by certain things. They have always felt that content hurt them or they won’t mentally prepared for it. As the world has changed to become more accepting rather than tolerant, our mentalities towards mental health has shifted.
Which is amazing.
These content and trigger warnings have arisen in order for us to create a world where everyone can feel they have a chance to consume the best media for them. Obviously, it is difficult for us to know all of someone’s triggers, example some people have a trigger towards fishing. Not animal cruelty, just the act of fishing. This isn’t something that everyone would know to include when writing up the warnings. Including the triggers you are aware of in the text is incredibly important though.
Ultimately, I don’t believe trigger warnings are spoilers. You are not spoiling anything, you are giving a heads up to the people who may need it to determine whether this book will affect their state of mind. I have read a lot of books on release day and been shocked when they’ve contained abuse, one of my biggest triggers. No one who read an ARC mentioned anything so I simply thought I was safe. Due to this, I have now tried to wait at least a few days before reading a book due to the fact I don’t want to be triggered.
Talia Hibbert, a romance author whom I adore, included trigger warnings at the beginning of all her books. I’ve noticed she has started to specify which chapters the content happens on as well which is amazing. I know that Michelle Hodkins, author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, made a joke about trigger warnings at the beginning of her most recent release and treated them in a very insensitive manner. I know which author I’d prefer to support. I can’t think of any other authors who include trigger warnings at the beginning of their books, I’m sure there is a few. Let me know in the comments if you know any authors who include trigger warnings in their books!
I think the biggest book I’ve seen for the argument that trigger warnings are spoilers is from people talking about All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. If you don’t know how I feel about that train wreck of a book click here. The book contains many triggering themes and one of them is a suicide that happens while the book is happening. Many view this as a spoiler since it is a ‘twist’. However, mentioning that there is an active suicide in the book isn’t exactly a spoiler. It is informing the audience of the content within. It is not telling you who, when, or why. Those are all things that will be found out throughout the book. If someone battling suicidal thoughts or depression was thinking about reading that book they would then be informed on what content is within the book and be somewhat prepared if they choose to dive in.
As a young adult reading was all I had to escape and if I had read a book like All The Bright Places it would have been incredibly damaging to my mental health journey. Thankfully for me, the book wasn’t around then. What I’m saying is another person could feel that way and pick up All The Bright Places unknowingly. These trigger warnings are needed.
Thirteen Reasons Why (the book) by Jay Asher contains triggering content throughout that could also be considered spoilers. To see my full thoughts on that train wreck click here. Again the content is already triggering being that it is revenge suicide and not something that should be highlighted. However, with themes of rape, bullying and sexual assault throughout these triggers are necessary so an individual accidentally gets triggered. I know that the term triggered is used as such a joke these days but it is a serious side effect to life. I even feel weird typing it because of the fact that the word has become such a joke to many.
Another example is One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus. This book is rarely talked about despite the incredibly triggering content in it. It has suicide, it has cheated, and I’m pretty sure it has homophobia – don’t quote me it’s been some time since I’ve read it. The best review I’ve found for this is by Trina @ Between Chapters, there is a spoiler section in this review that contains basically all my thoughts and feelings towards the ‘twist’ that this book contained.
If you don’t need trigger warnings or you believe they are spoilers, simply don’t read them. They aren’t for you. People typically include them with the words ‘trigger/content warnings’ before a review. You don’t need to read them. These warnings have the ability to help the recovery of many and save the lives of more. Screaming that trigger warnings are spoilers and useless isn’t going to change anything. I’m going to continue to include trigger warnings in the beginning of all my reviews.
Overall, life isn’t easy and we should be able to make people’s experiences with their hobbies/passions/escapes as easy as possible. Why make it any harder? Just because nothing triggers you doesn’t mean you can’t have empathy and think of others.