I honestly can’t pin down exactly when it happened, but “Safe-space”/’Trigger warning” preciousness won, at some point in the relatively recent past.
“Trigger warnings”, “Microaggressions” and “safe spaces” are basically all derivatives of the “political correctness’ fad — censorship masquerading as “politeness”.
The thing about Political correctness is: “Self-censorship” only “works” if its victims “voluntarily'” STFU. If they don’t comply, there is still a “risk” that some precious little snowflake might be “triggered” by something “offensive” or “hurtful”. (In other words, something which might possibly lead them to experience specific SUBJECTIVE emotional states, in response.)
The tragedy is: The mass culture has been afflicted with EXACTLY the same thought-disorder, for years, if not centuries.
For example, the bromide about how one should “never discuss religion or politics” in “polite company”. How is this any different from “trigger warnings” or “safe-space” bullshit?
BOTH substitute a woozy obsession with the subjective emotional states of OTHERS for commitment to truth, honesty, or even the notion of “open discussion”, itself.
Quite frankly, THAT strikes me as a problem. The so-called “Internet disinhibition effect” is a myth. Well, actually its more of a loosening of the older form of “Political correctness” which masquerades as “etiquette”.
Quite frankly, if you elevate dishonesty and self-censorship to the status of a virtue (“Etiquette”), you have already conceded that feelings are more important than the facts, and that a tantrum — or threat thereof — should take precedence over, well, anything else.
But, here’s the thing: “Wish” in one hand, shit in the other, etc.
We all know (at least implicitly) that your subjective emotional states are actually pretty impotent — that reality is impervious to our tantrums, etc. The dirty little secret is: DISPLAYS of subjective emotional states can be used to manipulate others — if THOSE “others” actually give a shit.
This is why toddlers throw tantrums.
I can’t help it: I recognize the whole edifice of “trigger warnings”, “Safe spaces”, being “offended”, etc. as the “adult” equivalent of “if I don’t get what I want, I’ll hold my breath until I pass out!”
Okay, do it.
Now, here’s the thing:
“trolling” only “works” if you (implicitly or explicitly) function on the premise that it is actually possible for some random outburst from some equally random stranger to ‘hurt” you. In other words, the pathetic (and fallacious) notion that emotional ‘discomfort” is somehow equal to the genuine IE: PHYSICAL) variety.
That’s what it comes down to: The vast majority of the populace in “Developed” nation-states are privileged to exist in a state of physical comfort and safety which is, from both a historical perspective and the perspective of those in the so-called “Developing” world), essentially utopian.
Witness, for example, the whiny, a-historical bullshit claim that no parent “should” ever out-live their own child(ren). Try to sell that as anything but a UTOPIAN FANTASY, either to those inhabiting the slum-cities of what used to be called the “Third World”, or to our own pre-industrial ancestors.
In 1950, 59 countries had child mortality rates of more than 200 per 1,000 live births — in those countries, more than one fifth of all children died before the age of five. In 2012, no countries had child mortality rates that high.
This is another reason why I cannot take the notion of “desensitization’ seriously. It assumes (wrongly) that the “default” state is acute “sensitivity” to whatever your particular insular little subculture happens to find icky.
It elevates squeamishness into a “social” virtue.
That’s where you get things like the mass pants-shitting over Richard Dawkins’ Dear Muslima comment.
Dawkins refused to succumb to the latest SJW moral panic, and instead (gasp!) advocated that privileged Westerners refrain from navel-gazing:
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and… yawn… don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with. Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so… And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
In other words, Richard Dawkins had the temerity to remind a prissy, privileged, pampered “Activist” of her own privilege, and to (gasp!) look outside of the insular little bubble which allows her to to believe that her “trauma” is genuine.
In other words, Dawkins did the equivalent of THIS:
Except, he failed to couch his (entirely accurate) criticism as “humor”.
That’s the thing: The actual beneficiaries of “privilege” are (frequently) the ones least able to recognize or acknowledge that fact.
So, yeah: I’ll admit it. From a historical perspective, and in comparison to (virtually) anyone living in the “Third world”: I am SO AMAZINGLY PRIVILEGED to live a lifestyle which they would find UTOPIAN. ALL of us fortunate enough to live in the scientific, technological, (semi)individualist, (semi)Free “Western” nations benefit from centuries — if not millennia — of hard-won and precious scientific, technological, industrial, political and cultural “capital” — NOT merely from “The West” itself, but from our global heritage.
Do you want an illustration of what I mean?
Here are several:
- The fact that I can enjoy something at least approximating the “local cuisines” of China (“Chinese” food), Italy (Pizza shops/”Italian” restaurants), India/Pakistan, Mexico, etc.
- The fact that the Tao Te Ching is available (in translation) at my local library, physical bookstore, and/or at the touch of a button in “PDF” format.
- The fact that religious “believers” here in the U.S. are (largely) prevented from being able to torture/slaughter those they see as harboring “heretical” beliefs, or proselytizing at sword-point.
- “Western” medicine (perfect example: the NICU – Neonatal Intensive-care unit –which allowed me to survive infancy) — with all of the scientific, technological, and medical knowledge that presupposes
So, yeah: damn right, I’m “privileged”. The trick is to understand the actual source of such “privileges’. THEN maybe they can stop being regarded as mere “privileges”, and we can work on ensuring that they are recognized as the birthright and inheritance of humankind, as a whole.
Until then, take your bullshit about “microaggressions”, and cram it up your safe-space.