How #TheTriggering Hashtag Backfired

I used Keyhole to track the data for the hashtag on Twitter over the range of March 9th to March 13th, which resulted in less than 80 posts with a fair percentage of these posts being multiple posts by the same user. The highest posts were made by conservative politicians and celebrities, but the tag was also used to advocate for white supremacy.

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#TheTriggering is an interesting tag in and of itself because of how tags work on social media. Tags usually function to sort posts in particular categories – for example, if I posted a picture of a cat, I would probably tag it as #cats or #kittens. That way, people who are interested in cats can find cat-related content, and therefore my content. It serves as a way for individuals to find content-creators who line up with their particular interests.

And because of how the tagging system works, it’s possible to avoid content by tagging it. For example, in the case of triggering as a whole, tagging a post containing graphic images of blood and gore can be tagged as #blood or #gore so that they can be “blacklisted” using various apps. Users who find those images upsetting can therefore never be exposed to them because anything tagged as #blood or #gore would automatically be removed.

#TheTriggering basically shoots itself in the foot, because it allows users to blacklist the tag itself and never be exposed to what can trigger them. So how does #TheTriggering actually work as a tag if affected users can blacklist it?

It creates an echo chamber in which people mocking triggering can post about other people being triggered by their statements, and other people who find triggering mockable can find them. It sets these users up to be silenced because of the way that tagging works – and in a unique way, because #TheTriggering works differently than say, #cats. I can post both positive and negative things about cats in a #cats tag. I can’t avoid negative cat posts if I’m a fan of cats. But #TheTriggering only works to find triggering content.

In a way, it serves as a better censor than anything a person who needs trigger warnings could ask for, and I think that’s great.

 

 

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