Hey! Welcome to “Shortlisted,” a new series in which I talk about nothing in particular. This “nothing” could just be things that are on my mind like uncitable rants and/or general PSAs which relate to epilepsy in some obscure way.
Initially, I was going to post some grand article about disability rights and patient advocacy. However, this week has been a week of discovery. I’ve discovered why people pay more to have in-house washers and dryers. I’ve discovered that Nazism is alive and well, although that wasn’t a discovery so much as it was a tragedy.
I’ve also discovered that I am, in fact, a human being. I cannot mentally and physically write a long-form essay about social justice and epilepsy every single week. The site description explicitly says stuff like “lifestyle tips” and “advice,” so I don’t know why I’m over here trying to write a graduate school-style essay with citations every week.
Besides, some of you don’t want the social justice. That tendency can be problematic at times, but being socially conscious is not necessarily a prerequisite for this website—although, I hope it’s a result of visiting this website.
For those of you who like the social justice-y bits, don’t worry. I’m three-parts anarchist rage and one-part righteous anger, so I have to write about the larger societal impacts of everything in order to function properly.
And with that, let’s get to the point!
Something that’s been on my mind lately is trigger warnings. Why is this the topic? Because, honestly, I couldn’t think of anything else.
For those of you who don’t know, trigger warnings usually come in the form of notes or signs outside of buildings or on the first page of consumed content like an essay or a syllabus. These signs are exactly as they sound; they warn the potential reader or consumer that there may be some aspect of the produced work or product, such as strobe lights, that might cause harm to the individual. If that’s the case, the creator of triggering content or the proprietor of a business that uses triggering devices to sell their products are responsible for providing this warning. For example, if I write about sexual assault in great detail, it is my responsibility to the readership to provide a trigger warning. The phrase “content warning” has also been used to describe this action.
In terms of medical warnings, businesses, amusement parks, or anything involving possible triggers need to provide a warning to potential customers so as not to cause harm to the individual in the event that they have epilepsy. For example, I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in high school. I waited about ninety minutes to go on the big experience ride that takes you through a Hogwarts-like set. About thirty minutes after entering the line, there was a sign that read “warning: ride might not be suitable for persons with epilepsy.” At that point, I had to decide if I wanted to forge on and risk a seizure in the name of my undying love for HP or to miss out on the ride in the name of my neurological health.
Well, I ended up going on the ride. I mean…it is Harry Potter World.
Regardless, the point is that I assumed the risk for any potential seizure I might have had while on the ride.
My problem, you ask? There aren’t enough of these warnings. I may have assumed the risk for the Harry Potter ride, but why the hell wasn’t the sign at the beginning of the line? The sign magically appeared after half an hour of my life passed by instead of showing up when it should have: before I bought my ticket and before I waited that thirty minutes in line.
Was it worth it? I mean…yes. Absolutely. It’s Harry friggin’ Potter World.
Anyway, what’s the point to this incredibly short story? If you happen to be an owner of an amusement park or a business owner looking for something “fun” and “quirky” for your customers, let people with epilepsy know that there are strobe lights before entering the establishment. Additionally, if you are video producer or internet writer looking to add some technical and artistic wizardry to your content, then, for the love of God, use a trigger warning! Here, I’ll even give you one to copy and paste:
“Warning: This (video/business/ride) contains special effects that may be harmful to people with epilepsy. Proceed with caution.”
There. Copy and paste with valor, my friends.