Tag Archives: agenda

The change of “Trigger”? Bastardized.


University is already a tough time on the mental health of students. It is believed around 1 in 5 university students have some kind of mental illness. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being one of the illnesses and a key factor in today’s social political agenda on campuses. PTSD was synonymous with the word ‘trigger’. ‘Trigger’ being anything that may bring back memories and cause intense emotional and physical reactions. Mental illness is still a serious issue within humanity but aspects of mental illness have become a set agenda for today’s social issues. In particular today’s Intersectional Feminists and Social Justice Warriors (SJW) are pushing forward the right to have safe spaces and trigger warnings on university campuses.

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Melody Hensley becoming immortalized in a meme also comes in a gif version

The word ‘trigger’ has been bastardized by current day university students to reflect the feeling of anything that opposes one’s viewpoint, values, ideals or sense of morality. On one side of the debate the word ‘triggering’ is seen as a joke or current day meme to suggest anyone that gets offended by something subjective is representing a ‘triggered’ childish tendency (this point came in retaliation). While on the intersectional feminist side, to be ‘triggered’ is kept in the serious understanding of mental illness but what this side presents are perceived to be too broad, deals with hypersensitivity or a case of over-the-top political correctness. Such as the instance on Twitter with Melody Hensley where she claims cyber bullying in the form of harassment, stalking and trolling caused her to develop PTSD. This onslaught arising from being outspoken on feminist and atheist issues.

Social media is a necessity in today’s world. Social media impacts our public and private relations with friends, family and work. The openness of social media allows anyone, anywhere the freedom to look at what we post and critique that in any manner that is available to them. Social media does not provide a mandatory rule in which people need to provide details about them in any public manner. Anyone can create a fake profile with a fake email and still use social media. Reddit only needs a username and password. Facebook and Twitter need an existing email, a birthday, name and gender. These details can easily be faked. There is an ease of anonymity that is present on the internet in general that provides a gateway to be outspoken, this includes responding to people who are opinionated. While the appropriateness of this is for a different discussion. The significance of knowing that this happens should be obvious to the majority of users online – the ease for which you can say something is reflected in the ease in which you can be responded to. In particular to social media users whose job relies on social media. In any medium in which an opinion is said; regardless of an educated opinion or not, is open for discussion and criticism. A sole impact of social media is to break down the boundaries in which people can talk and present a conversation wherever they are and whenever they would like to. To put any opinion on Twitter like what Melody Hensley did is free to be responded to. This discourse of information further creates a topic regarding freedom of speech.

In universities this idea of being unsettled with someone who has an opposing view, or just a different view is the real world scenario of what happened on Twitter but face-to-face. The significance that it is happening in Universities is an important aspect as the fundamental point of universities and higher education is to bring rational, logical and educated discussions to the front and find solutions.Universities are built upon the freedom of intellectual expression, developing students from childhood to adulthood (Chiang & Hawley 2013) and as a source to expose students (and staff) to different worldly views. Higher education facilities are a haven for intellectual diversity and intellectual inclusivity. To be inclusive of all opinions is to allow all voices to be heard and treated the same way, regardless of the impact in which something was said or the way it was said. Trigger warnings get rid of this inclusivity and intellectual diversity by limiting the scope for which a topic can be discussed. Trigger warnings have been around in small areas around higher education by faculty members and organized clubs presenting the warnings themselves, with no outside or systematic obligation – a form or self-regulation. However, to put this topic to the entirety of a university begs to question to what extent would trigger warnings be created for and who gets to decide what ‘triggers’ people. Is any class that can be determined to have any historical or current lessons on any marginalized group, on any group that does not belong to the majority, on any individual who feels excluded or on any feeling that gets hurt. The accessibility to have the power to determine what people should and should not learn is quite the privilege.

Emotions are not something higher education can deal with as emotions come in all shapes, sizes and variations. The psychology of trigger warnings has a negative impact in which it can create a seeded disturbance in students who were once fine. To see the words ‘trigger warnings’ creates the perception something in the class can be deemed inappropriate, offensive or scary. This perception attaches itself to this emotion and the constant engagement on the material being shown creates a constant need to look at what part of the material is offensive and why is it offensive. This creates a perception that what you are seeing whether or not it is the “trigger warning” intended material, how is it provocative in a negative way as it was related to a trigger warning. To be at university is to be there by choice, the engagement for which a student has with the university is up to them. Knowing the impact and what it takes to go to university a person who has a diagnosis of PTSD would be taking the necessary precautions in which the PTSD will not come up. For the individuals who do not have the diagnosis or are not taking the precautions the university should have no obligation to cater to those who do not take care of themselves. Universities provide adequate engagement to the well being of the students. With psychologists, psychiatrists and general practitioners there are professionals ready to engage with students and understand their needs. Psychology and science provides research that shows the engagement in which people with mental illness are open about their circumstance provides the first step in which a containable or permanent solution can be reached in which people would not be triggered by something that would trigger them before. This is also publicly seen with the R U OK day and many other mental awareness campaigns that are supported and promoted each year.


Chiang, S, & Hawley, J 2013, ‘The role of higher education in their life: Emerging adults on the crossroad’, New Horizons in Adult Education & Human Resource Development, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 3-13.

Would you like diversity with your agenda?


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Today, just like yesterday and the day before we have access to every type of media, television, radio, newspaper, even blogs – to get our need for news. However with the ability to get news anytime from any source, 24/7, is the ‘news’ actually news? When there is a story to tell about an incident is that what makes it news? Does the amount of people involve or the emotion evoked in the story make it news?

We are in an age where anything can be classified as news, it is not that, nothing would be worthy of being news but the fact that since we are a society that likes to know about our society we need to be catered for. This ‘need to know’ causes media outlets to get any story they can and to create news out of it. We have changed the meaning of news, our society has changed, our interests have changed, our ability to use technology has changed; an era of convergence has changed what causes news to be news.

With umpteen amount of media outlets for news it is a good idea for media moguls to diverse their interest in order to continue the expansion of their empire and audience. This expansion causes some issues, the limited freedom of expression – economic, cultural, social and political condition on the stories presented, with a concentration of owners, the variety of interests provided is also concentrated. Those that are employed usually have an agenda that reflects those of the employer, this causes the degree of news to be sud-standard, explained by Elizabeth Hart in ‘Media Ownership‘ (reading for Week 4).

The resulting action of contradicting the agenda the employer represents ends up with the simple result of “your effort is no longer needed”, which is the basic result of CBS ex-worker Dan Rather who reported news about then President George W. Bush avoiding going to Vietnam about his national guard duties. Which caused confusion about the evidence supporting the claim made by Dan Rather and the potential cover up by CBS to claim that there was no evidence.

The ‘sacking’ of Dan Rather caused news outlets around America to both question Dan Rather’s political outlook but also his integrity as a news presenter. He appeared on the American ABC’s The View, which gave Dan Rather the opportunity to voice his reasoning and understanding of what happened, and also his opinion on what the news has become. Dan Rather commented that his political stance was as an Independent, while his previous employer, CBS, is seen as having a Liberal bias.

The power to control the media allowed for such an event to happen, one could not just get away with freedom of speech on a news show which has a political agenda, regardless of experience in the field.

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When asking “does it matter who controls the media”, the answer is yes, it does matter. Where there is a need for news you are more likely to watch news that is aimed for the individual that has the same outlook as the company producing the news. The company knows who watches there programming and co-ordinates there scheduling and showing to emphasize their possible agenda. When does it become too much? When the diversity of what is on different media outlets is all the same, there is a need for diversity and a need for regulation. If I turn on the television and then the radio and they both produce the same conceived biased idea, I think it would be time to change who controls our media.