Summary of Better Online Living through Content Moderation

trigger warnings

This article by Melissa King discusses the subject of trigger warnings, block lists, privacy options and ignore functions and the criticism that users of these receive from those who do not need them. This piece acts as a well worded defense for those who suffer from PTSD, anxiety attacks and other afflictions from the people who would tell them that they’re “weak”, “too sensitive” or that they should “just deal with it”. It is essentially divided into three sections. The first has no subtitle and acts as an abstract to introduce the reader to the content that the rest of the column will discuss. The next section, labeled “Computer Chair Psychology” (likely a play on the phrase “Armchair Psychology” used to refer to amateur psychology) and discusses the psychological aspect of protective measures like trigger warnings and block lists. It points out how appeals to “be less sensitive” or “ignore it” misuse a type of treatment called Exposure Therapy wherein the patient is slowly exposed in increments to the stimuli that causes them anxiety in an effort to overcome that anxiety. Here, the author relies on quotes from two other voices on this subject. The first is Maddy Myers, where King references her article on TheMarySue.com on trigger warnings. The next is Caleb Lack, a licensed clinical psychologist and psychology professor who specializes in treating anxiety disorders, who says: “Bullying has long been known to have a severe impact on mental health, particularly if the bullying is repeated and prolonged… So, given what we know about PTSD, and given what we know about the effects of bullying (cyber and otherwise) on mental health, I think it’s relatively safe to say that “Yes, you can ‘get’ PTSD from Twitter.” One needs to be careful, though, to be specific about this: it’s the bullying and harassment that could lead to PTSD or PTSD symptoms (as well as depression, increased suicidality, and so on), not anything inherent to Twitter itself.” The next section is “Threatening Legal Recourse” and it discusses the defamation cases that have come out of this issue. The cases cited here are from the people who are listed on block lists and call for compensation for “defamation”resulting from being included on these lists. King references the Gamergate group thats been in the news lately who used scare tactics to silence those who pointed out mysoginistic tendencies in video games. The last section is “Towards More Agency Over Online Experiences” and it recounts many of the points made earlier in the piece and points out the fact that women are a very large target for people who disparage people with needs for trigger warnings, particularly women who delve into male-dominated fields like STEM and video game culture. in the last paragraph king nicely sums up the main purpose of the article, saying: “Ultimately, easy one-size-fits-all solutions ignore the diversity of human psyches and experiences. Content control tools take this fact into account, and give people more room to act on behalf of their own mental and emotional needs.”

-MyersTuesday, Maddy, and August 11th 2015 at 2:37 pm. “Saying Trigger Warnings ‘Coddle the Mind’ Completely Misses the Point.” N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
-“Better Online Living through Content Moderation.” Model View Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

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