here's the thing about telling people to CW things:
1. CWs literally, logically cannot be a one-size-fits-all, universal norm. Humans are not limited to needing warnings for "predictable" subjects, or any small/reasonable set of things, at all. any aspect of a traumatic memory can become retraumatizing; my go-to example is someone who pointed out they're triggered by schoolbuses. should everyone, everywhere CW photos of schoolbuses? I don't think so! it's impractical, and how are the vast majority of people supposed to figure out that's a thing?
But if someone in your circles asks you to CW schoolbuses, you can certainly CW schoolbuses. CW conventions CAN be effective when tailored for the needs of a specific community, but this means CW conventions Need to be different between different groups. why?
2. Attempts to be exhaustive about CWs aren't just logically doomed to fail, they're inaccessible.
a. If the rate of CWs is too high, people's ability to make decisions gets overloaded.
They just run out of spoons. Either you open all of them without reading, and you're playing roulette with your triggers again, or you scroll past without reading, and communication stops.
b. Over-detailed CWs can be worse than the content itself. if you try to tag EVERYTHING, reading CWs becomes trigger roulette.
3. An immense, labyrinthine system of etiquette that you can only learn through being scolded is an accessibility barrier. Anybody who struggles to pick up on norms gets pushed out or leaves of their own accord.
So what is to be done? CW things people you interact with agree are universally upsetting. And respect the wishes of those who may be harmed by content. Which means,
3. You have to listen to people of color when they tell you "zero-tolerance racism CW" is an aggression. Their oppression? Their rules.
I routinely talk abt homophobia, transphobia, anti-madness, etc. w/oCWing it unless it's particularly harrowing. For some reason (I'm white), no-one bothers me abt it.
a. Individual people of color, gay people, trans people, disabled people may request something more stringent in CWs! People are different. Sometimes our needs collide, and you have to make judgment calls (maybe, for example "I need an alt for this!") This is a normal aspect of human society, and there are no simple solutions.
b. If another mad/disabled person tells me that I need to CW something related to ableism, that's one conversation. If a cishet tells me to CW something related to homophobia, that's another conversation. Either way I might decide to do it, or I might say "Please mute me;" but it's different! Don't speak for people who are already present in the conversation.
c. Sometimes people have a different opinion from you and it's not because they're misinformed. This is ugly and glaring in conversations where white people try to tell people of color about racism CWs: why do you assume they just don't know what CWs are for? They can know, & disagree about a specific case
What happens when a person of color talking about racism says, "Don't tell me to CW this," and a white person does, in fact, tell them to CW it? Well, there's the obvious: A white person is disrespecting a person of color's boundaries in order to talk down to them.
But let's go subtler. What's happening in the mind of the white person who feels themself to be well-intentioned?
A collision of community norms. Many — not all!— people of color online feel that there is a tradeoff to be made between the urgency of a message and its potential triggers. When they and other people operating under those conventions interact, passing along information they may find upsetting because they judge it urgent, the system works as intended.
When someone whose etiquette system is CW-if-in-doubt sees this, it looks different. Perhaps like a violation! There's a clash of norms between different informal communities of use. For a really basic analogy, this is like seeing a photograph of a British car,
driving on the left, and your kneejerk thought is "that car's on the wrong side of the road!"
Except it's the Internet, and there are no central authorities dictating what traffic rules functiin where, and everyone is everywhere. That poses a problem for etiquette, but it's not anyone's fault; the world is just a big and complicated place, and pressing YOUR community norms on other people for whom they are ill-fitting is not gonna change that.
So be thoughtful. Listen to, and consider the viewpoints of, people who you hold power over. Make judgment calls like "I won't boost this; my friend (who does NOT make those kinds of tradeoffs) will be triggered.
Just don't treat people of color like children when they express something you haven't considered before. White people should not act like we're not the judge and jury of race relations.
@funnypanja It means telling people that they must CW something if racism is involved, or asserting that a person of color's decision not to CW some mention of racism is necessarily illegitimate. Or that someone's *anger* about being expected to CW urgent information about their life experience and oppression is illegitimate, because "you should CW racism."
@funnypanja The right to make autonomous decisions about their own oppression, and participate in setting the guidelines for their own local community of internet users. and I do find that heart a little annoying.
who decided that people of color should never make a judgment call about whether something needs a CW if racism is involved? why shouldn't the person of color decide otherwise? and if it's that simple, why don't I get these kinds of CW requests whenever I decide a post which mentions homophobia or transphobia doesn't need a CW? I'm pretty sure it's because I'm white, and people implicitly accept my right to make decisions in a way they don't extend to people of color, for racist reasons.
@funnypanja you're importing your own assumptions into the interaction, and you aren't budging when other people — including the person whose motivations you're assuming — tell you they don't agree with your interpretation. She said other people had chided her about it! We have just talked about a lot of reasons a person might resent having their CW decisions invalidated; so there you go, there's her reason to be angry about it.
so what you're now doing is, "I was justified because I assumed false and bad-faith things about her motivations." I'm sorry, that don't impress me much. white people saying people of color are angry wrong is nothing new and it's nothing I feel the need to respect.
@byttyrs Good thread mads
@byttyrs Oh wow this is much older than I realized lmao
@jordyd LOL Yeah... we've been having the same fights over and over since uhhh 2012 🙃
@byttyrs In 2012 I was on reddit and my only concept of CW was “nsfw”
@byttyrs excellent thread!
@byttyrs Your point about driving on different sides of the road is actually a really good one - it's simple enough for, say, an American travelling in the UK, or a Brit in Europe, to suddenly, accidentally, finding themselves driving on the wrong side of the road - and the thing to do is pull over, apologise to everyone around you, and tell yourself to stop being stupid and do things right!
It's the same here, to some degree - it's easy enough to stray in to somewhere on t'internet where the norms are different from those you are used to - it's up to you to adapt to those new norms, rather than expecting them to change for you.
(This assumes that people want reasonably civil discourse, even when opinions differ).
@byttyrs thank you so much for this thread. It helps clarify and recontextualize a lot of my own wrestling with the "how should we CW" question.e
@byttyrs This is excellently put, thank you!
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