TW: Mentions Of Rape
We have more often than not liked and viewed posts on social media sites, which had trigger warnings and blur filters. But is there a way out for the print medium to filter and mention trigger warnings while reporting rape stories?
A study published in the Journal of Computer Mediated-Communication in 2019 challenged the notion that social media use and interacting with people online can contribute to mental health instability. It concluded that a person who used a social networking site is 1.63 times more likely to avoid psychological distress.
With the ongoing discourse on the usage of social media platforms, the increase in usage during the past year has also contributed to a surge in mental health disorders. In the present picture of control on social media, the concept of ‘Trigger Warnings’ is gaining momentum.
Mainstream media is not sensitive to the issues of mental health. But a recent change in the policies of social media giants has somewhat controlled what people wish to post and share on public platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
Trigger warnings have largely originated from the online community of people posting about events that could trigger a general audience in terms of the content they are posting about. Instagram’s policy has attempted to filter or mute certain posts from appearing the way they are posted. With more and more open conversations about mental health, social media users are becoming more careful and considerate while sharing content online.
On one hand, where the ongoing progress of social and digital media with trigger warnings is gaining considerable momentum, it is crucial to partake in some sort of warnings in print medium as well.
How many times have we come across headlines on the first page of a national daily, “16-year-old raped by two men?”
It is important to be able to censor or add some sort of trigger warning while publishing news and information that, in any way, could trigger a person with a similar experience. Journalistic nature does necessitate the usage of highlighted headlines, but most often than not it can also desensitize and painfully trigger people reading the same. Especially in a country like India, where the patriarchal hegemony and overarching increase in brutal crimes against women is always a major concern.
Protecting the mental health of those suffering and those who can get triggered is crucial. The persistent lack of sensitivity, now in print journalism while reenacting cases in the written form, has affected the readership without any prior warning. More so, in the language used by the writers and editors, or prime-time broadcast journalists often put at stake the ethics of sensitive reporting.
The concept of trigger warnings exists to warn readers and viewers that the content in question could spike their past experiences or anxiety. Data around the efficacy of trigger warnings often lack to present how the first-world and privileged society perceives stories and how the society at stakes gets triggered. With the usage of coloured headlines or trigger warning tags in print forms of news, a sensitive take on triggering information can be taken.
Hence, open conversations and experimental forms of different journalism, could make news dissemination sensitive and understand a wider range of readers.