Trigger warnings

A colleague of mine recently felt the need to warn me that she was about to puncture the plastic cover of her microwave meal with her plastic knife.  She even apologized for what she was about to do.  Alas, the result was underwhelming.  After all her buildup, I was hoping for concussion and flame.  A soft little plastic pop, and her tofu and snow peas surprise was ready to vent its steam. This incident has stuck with me for a variety of reasons.  What could she have been thinking?

Did she suspect that a “loud” sound would act as a trigger for me?  This is reminiscent of the conference in Britain last year in which participants were advised to employ “jazz hands” rather than clapping on the grounds that the noise could cause anxiety.  By admitting that I had to look up what “jazz hands” means, I’m revealing myself to be someone who is out of touch by choice, but I won’t apologize for that.

The odd thing is that I don’t think she was trying to be insulting.  Perhaps in her view of life, being someone who is a fragile flower is a commendable state of being.  Or perhaps she spends a lot of her free time around people who have major traumas in their histories.

In the general population, some seven or eight percent will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives.  More specifically, that works out to ten percent of women and four percent of men. But rare doesn’t mean never.

In a way, this is akin to peanut allergies.  It’s hard to know when something is a fad and when we are talking about something that we ought to be sensitive to.  Society has not always been so concerned with the things that can alarm the people around us or send them into palpitations.  On matters of race, sex, or orientation, the recognition that our fellow human beings deserve a measure of respect.

But there comes a point wherein we have gone too far.  After all, I could make a claim to being offended at being thought of as the kind of person who would be bothered by plastic percussion.  I was tempted to ask my colleague how she would respond to the sound of a .45 being fired at an outdoor range while having forgotten to put on ear protection, but that might have been insensitive.

Perhaps this is yet an area in which exercising gun rights is good for the practitioners.  The responsibilities involved put things into perspective.  Doing this means that we have accepted that we won’t be coddled and that life is a one-time gift, not something that will be continually taken care of for us.

At the least, I know that I can handle the sound of plastic cutlery stabbing a microwave dinner.  Have we become a nation of people who can’t say the same thing generally?  The question is enough to make the spirited among us dream of rising against all flags, chewing on raw meat we have slaughtered with our bare hands, or short of those things, ripping off dinner’s plastic wrapping with a barbaric yawp.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

Latest Reviews

revolver barrel loading graphic