Are All Content Warnings Really Necessary?

Whenever I hear the phrase “precious millennial snowflake,” I want to cringe. It’s an intentionally mean phrase; it makes our generation out to be sensitive, narcissistic kids, and I just don’t believe that blanket generalization to be valid. Or, I didn’t think I did…

I was recently added to a relatively large private Facebook group consisting of only females from my university. The premise of the group is to create a safe space for girls to chat freely about anything at all. The posts could be as benign as recommendations for a good study spot on campus, or they could be a little more personal, like sexual assault.

This group totally rules. All of the comments are extremely and universally supportive, and most of these people are complete strangers to one another. It’s awesome to see how comfortable the women in this group feel, and I think it’s a wonderful testament to the community at my school.

As with most content-sharing groups, this one requires content warnings for posts that may contain sensitive material. I think that this rule is generally a great way to keep the calm and avoid stepping on anyone’s toes. Especially in a positive reinforcement group like this, nobody wants to offend or trigger another member unintentionally.

But here’s where it hits a sticky spot for me. I’ve seen a few posts in this group that I felt were absolutely appropriate on their own but were taken down, or their writers badgered to attach a content warning. For example, one girl posted to ask for a gym recommendation. Her post received roughly 60 comments, and almost half of those were asking to add CW: Exercise. Another member asked for a Mexican food recommendation, and her post garnered even more comments asking to add CW: Food.

Of course, I will never be able to walk in the shoes of the girls that were bothered by these posts, and I know I cannot understand how this affects them. To me, exercise and eating are normal, healthy parts of life. If we learn about it in middle school health class or from any doctor’s visit ever, does it really need a CW? I understand that some sensitive topics are surrounding both exercise and food, and I could totally stand behind a CW on eating disorders or dieting, etc. But on restaurant and gym recommendations, I admit I was a little shocked.

If you are shaking your head at me right now because I’m just not getting it, I would love to hear from you. I want to know what you babes are feeling so that I can do my best to understand and be respectful of my internet presence. Inadvertently hurting someone’s feelings is the last thing I’d want. On the flip side, if you’ve felt similarly about content warnings, I would also love to hear from you. I think 99% of the time it’s a fantastic system, but I wonder if there are ways to improve it.

Given the nature of the group, I was honestly a little surprised to see this kind of drama in the comments. It made me wonder if other girls might be discouraged from posting something for fear of accidentally offending another member and receiving a riot act of her own. What do you think?

What To Ask (And What NOT To Ask) If You Want To Land That Job
What To Ask (And What NOT To Ask) If You Want To Land That Job
  • 10614935101348454