Tag Archives: Blog Culture

What I Include In My Content Warnings and Why

Anyone who has followed this blog for a little while has probably noticed the content warnings that appear in some of the book and film reviews I share. I recently realized that I’ve never blogged about what I do and don’t include in my content warnings here, so let’s discuss it.

Please note that I will be briefly discussing things like rape, murder, and violence later in this post to give examples of things I use content warnings for. I will not go into detail on any these subjects, but I always warn my readers in advance when sensitive topics come up. Keep reading at your own discretion.

The Purpose of Content Warnings

A rabbit sitting at the mouth of its den
The friendliest photo I could find online.

Content warnings are used to alert readers about potentially sensitive material so that they can decide for themselves if they would like to read or watch that content.

Trigger warnings are a specific type of content warnings that are used for subjects that may cause intense psychological symptoms in some cases.

The purpose of these warnings is to give people who have PTSD, anxiety, or other mental illnesses a heads up before suddenly diving into topics that may trigger flashbacks, panic attacks, or other mental health concerns for them.

Since just about anything can be a content or trigger warning for someone out there, it simply isn’t possible to forewarn everyone about anything that might be difficult for them to stumble across in a story or film.

What I Include in My Content Warnings

My goal when writing content warnings for the stuff I review here is to include topics that are widely known to be sensitive or triggering.

I generally warn my readers about the following topics:

  • Any form of abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, etc.) against adults, kids, or animals
  • Blood and gore
  • Descriptive medical procedures (needles, surgery, amputations, etc).
  • Violence
  • Kidnapping or abductions
  • Death or dying (including pets/animals)
  • Pregnancy or childbirth (especially if it has a tragic outcome)
  • Self-harm or suicide
  • Eating disorders
  • Sexism, homophobia, racism, transphobia, ableism, classism, etc.
  • Mental illness

There have been a few times when readers contacted me privately to ask for clarification for a content warning or to see if something not on this list was included in the book or film I’d reviewed. I’m always happy to answer those questions.

While I do have a spoiler-free review policy in general, I think it’s helpful to let folks know in advance about topics they might need to emotionally prepare for before reading or watching what I recommend here.

How Do You Handle Content Warnings?

Three sketches of humans with round heads and torsos. Each one has a speech bubble above them that is blue, purple, or a combination of the two colours.Do you use them? Why or why not?

If you use them, what topics do you include in them?

Are you open to answering readers’ questions about the content of the stuff you review if they would like to know in advance if something not on your list was mentioned in the book, film, or other piece of media you reviewed?

I can’t wait to hear how all of you handle this topic on your sites and in your reviews.

 

We Need More Response Posts

Woman sitting on edge of white concrete stairs and looking at her laptop.I started blogging back in the early 2000s when most of the bloggers I knew used Blogspot. One of the things I miss the most from that era are response posts.

If you don’t know what a response post is, here’s an example of how this sort of thing works.

Finley: Here are seven reasons why Picard is the best Star Trek captain of them all. 

Rory: The other day I read Finley’s post about why Picard is the best Star Trek captain of them all. Here’s a link to their post for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. While I agree with most of their points, today I wanted to talk about why Captain Sisqo was an even better example of top-notch Star Trek leadership. 

That is, Rory noticed something in Finley’s original post that made them decide to write a response to it in order to dig more deeply into the topic of which Star Trek captain is the best of them all or to explain where their opinion differed from what Finley thinks about that universe.

Just like WordPress today, some blogging platforms back then had notification systems that would let the original blogger(s) know someone had linked to their work. Other bloggers could read both of these posts and then write their own replies about which captain they thought was the best. Sometimes this sparked conversations that lasted for weeks or months and took place over many different sites as new people added in their opinions and the original participants replied again to clarify their point of view or ask a question.

I’ve seen echoes of this phenomenon on occasional Tumblr posts, but I’m not seeing it happen in the blogosphere much at all these days. If someone strongly agrees or disagrees with a post, they tend to create Twitter threads or leave a comment instead. 

Comment sections and Twitter threads are fun, but I prefer blog posts for discussions like these for a few different reasons.

Longevity

 It’s been my experience that responses last longer and are easier to find if they’re turned into a blog post. Few people scroll months or years back into someone else’s Twitter stream, and I’ve had experiences in the past where old comments on my various blogs disappeared with site updates. 

Blog posts have a way of sticking around on the Internet for years after their publication date. Occasionally, I still find references to posts that went “viral” in the blogosphere many years ago.

In addition, one of the first things I do when I discover a new blog is to poke around their archives and see what they were talking about months or years ago. There can be posts there that I’ll then share with the people I know who are interested in comparing Star Trek captains, for example.

More In-Depth Discussions

There are many things I appreciate about social media, but it’s hard to fit complex ideas or discussions into a few 280-character tweets. The beautiful thing about the blogosphere is how much more room there is in a blog post to add subtley to your point of view. 

A tweet might only have room to mention one or two things you loved about Jean Luc Picard. In a blog post, you could mention everything you admired about him, compare it to the strengths and weaknesses of other captains, and respond to someone who had complained earlier about how silly is it for him to specify every single time that he wants his Earl Grey tea to be hot when that’s something that the replicators on the Enterprise really should be able to assume based on that captain’s long history of drinking hot tea.

Any Trekkie who stumbled across this hypothetical response post could share it on social media and ignite an entirely new round of discussions on the strengths and weaknesses of all of the Star Trek captains.

Community Building

Image of legs of people standing in a circle and pointing their toes to each other. Yes, communities can and absolutely do exist on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites.

One of the biggest differences between building an online community on social media and in the blogosphere lies in how easy it is to keep up with everyone. I’ll take a step back from my Star Trek analogy for a moment to discuss something serious that actually happened in one of my social circles recently.

Without giving away too many identifying details, a friend of mine recently went through something difficult. They talked about it on social media, but because of the time of day they shared them as well as some of the silly marketing gimmicks on that site I – along with many other friends of theirs – never saw their updates. 

It wasn’t until they shared another status update talking about how lonely they felt that most of us realized something was wrong. Had this been a blog post on my RSS feed instead, I would have seen and responded to it within a day or so of it being published. 

I Want to Write More Response Posts

As the saying goes, “be the change you want to see in the world.” While that phrase was originally coined to describe far more pressing issues than this one, I think I’m going to start shuffling my editorial calendar around on this blog a bit to allow for occasional response posts.

Maybe they’ll come back into fashion again if more bloggers realize just how useful they can be. If you write something thought-provoking, your post just might be the one I pick! 

For those of you who have experience with them, what do you think of response posts? Are you also interested in bringing this style of blog post back?