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3 Tips for Engaging With Triggering Media Without Actually Engaging With It

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Living with triggers as a result of trauma can be fairly difficult at times. Life in general doesn’t typically come with a trigger warning, so you could be out in public minding your own business when something triggers you, sending you into a panic attack or worse. 

Speaking from experience, it’s not a fun feeling when your day is detered due to an unexpected trigger attack. While life as a whole doesn’t come with a trigger warning, some things do, and oftentimes that’s media.

Media, such as movies, video games, live events, music, and more, have been disclosing trigger and content warnings as a way to give their audience a heads up to what adventures (to put it very very lightly) may be in store. 

While some professionals disagree over the use of trigger warnings, personally I’m for them just because it helps me choose what I want to interact with. I’ve avoided a lot of potentially personally harmful media over the years adhering to trigger and content warnings alone. That being said, it does suck when everyone is talking about a major show or movie, and you want so badly to watch it but you’re afraid of needlessly triggering yourself for the sake of entertainment. 

You deserve to enjoy things, but you should never put yourself in harm’s way just to do so.

If you relate to this and you still want to engage in trending and triggering media safety, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

1. Visit sites such as for crowd sourced trigger lists.

Sites like this are a godsend, and no this isn’t sponsored or an affiliate link. I just love this site so much and really think it’s helpful for people who need trigger and content warnings.

Sometimes we may feel as if our triggers aren’t very “common,” thus it makes it harder to find out if said media has that trigger. That’s what makes this site so great. Various triggers, no matter how “common” or “uncommon,” are listed here, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for, you can become a contributor and add ones you do know for others. 

2. Read the synopsis.

Hi, I’m Brittany and I actually sometimes need spoilers in order to watch a movie. I know, I know. That’s a hot take, but spoilers can help me realize early on if the media is or isn’t for me. 

Don’t feel ashamed for reading the synopsis beforehand. This will help you gauge if you can interact with the media, but also fill you in on any major plot points everyone may be talking about. You may still be able to contribute to the conversations and understand some of the memes, without having to trigger yourself to do it. Read that synopsis. Become as informed as possible, then make your decision to engage or to not. You and you alone hold that power.

3. Watch a YouTube review or video about the media, instead of watching it yourself.

This isn’t always the case, but sometimes I’ve noticed that reviewers can add trigger warnings when the actual media doesn’t. Either that, or you get to interact and understand a potentially nuanced take from a real person. 

Watching someone go over the highlight reel of the movie or the major plot points, spares you from having to actually watch the movie while giving you a little bit more information compared to a synopsis on a wiki page. The goal would be to know enough to ultimately be able to understand memes, references, and other little nuanced jokes that fandoms create as time goes on.

There are more ways to interact with triggering media without doing the thing firsthand, but these three ways are the ones I tend to navigate to that help me the most. 

You deserve to enjoy things, but you should never put yourself in harm’s way just to do so. Try these tips out and let us know if they worked for you. Happy watching!

Getty image by MediaProduction

Originally published: May 15, 2022
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