The adjective “triggered” is flying around at the moment. Two hashtags on Twitter have gone viral - #TriggerALiberaIn4Words and #TriggerAConservativeIn2Words. (Interesting that it apparently takes half as many words to trigger a Conservative.) Contributors to these hashtags list short phrases that are supposed to elicit a sudden, negative reaction and, it is hoped, emotional (and therefore apparently invalid) replies. Examples of the first include “Trump is our President” and “Obama is a Muslim” while Conservatives triggers are “Gay Parents” and “Climate Change”. So far, so good, in that some of the phrases actually do trigger such a reaction in the targets.
Find yourself in any mildly heated debate on social media however, and at some point, the word “triggered” appears. It’s now being thrown out willy nilly and has me screaming at my screen, “that’s not what being triggered means”. It seems to have replaced #fakenews as the hashtag du jour when users are faced with facts or opinions they don’t like. Pointing out that someone’s grammar is so bad it makes them incomprehensible and you’ll have #Triggered coming right back at you. What? I’m giving you a second chance to make your case and you thank me by implying I’m having an emotional, negative response? Actually, if you did the “you’re/your” thing you’re probably right.
#Triggered is also being used when pointing out that someone was simply angry or had an argument. Where once that person might have been described as “losing it”, they are now #triggered! According to the self-confessed “team of patriots” at the I Love My Freedom web site, Trump’s recent Tweet about the Oscars being lame and having no stars “triggered the hell out of” talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. They claim:
Kimmel became clearly ‘triggered’ by Trump’s troll tweet, and shot off a hasty response. “Thanks, lowest rated President in HISTORY.”
Um, no guys, as you said he “responded”, to point out the irony of the lowest rated President in history claiming he was the only star in the USA. Perhaps if his response had been a few hours later and not “hasty”, it wouldn’t have been seen as “triggered”? We’ll never know but I will be keeping my eye out for that possible distinction.
Another Tweet I came across used the word for a situation we all face from time to time - stuck in traffic or standing in the queue that never moves. In other words, annoyed, irritated, angry or ready to cause serious bodily harm. Young Roasted Pine Nut Hummus, tweeted –
Someone at the bar played “who let the dogs out” and I’m honestly triggered.
Unless the song in question literally triggered memories of a traumatic event, I’m pretty sure he meant to say “I hate this bloody song”.
And take for example, the position that it’s OK for Trump to sell coffee mugs bearing the Presidential Seal at his hotels, and the response that it may not be illegal but it’s tacky. Just as a differing opinion isn’t #fakenews, it’s also not being #triggered; it’s just an opinion.
There’s a certain pot-kettle aspect to triggering too. One could argue that the people instantly responding with the triggered hashtag are, in fact, the triggerees. Faced with arguments they can’t refute, they have added the word to their lexicon of deflective, veiled insults. Gone are the old chestnuts like “Educate yourself”, “Sheeple” and “Drinking the Kool-Aid”; #triggered is much more economical, even if it’s not quite fit for purpose.
In response to a particularly damning review of his podcast, author Michael Covel tweeted on March 6 -
My new all time most favorite iTunes review of my podcast: “So bad. Ranting nonsense. This is brutal. This guy has issues and uses this podcast as a therapy session. Pure pure garbage.” #triggered.
I think he’s saying that the reviewer was triggered, but it looks more like Covel was the one triggered here. (I asked him to explain but heard nothing.)
Trump “lashing out” on Twitter, especially when people have predicted the Tweets verbatim, is “triggered”. Never one to miss an opportunity for self-promotion, perhaps the Oscars were a trigger for him? Certainly, any hint of Robert Mueller breathing down his neck with more indictments seems to set him off at 3am.
So let’s get the #triggered thing straight.
There are many definitions but the general consensus is that triggered is a phrase, event or concept that sets off extreme anxiety in some people such as victims of trauma or abuse. These triggers can result in a strong emotional or physical response. Triggered can also describe a series of political events (for example) that escalate (triggered) a situation and risked war, or an emergency situation where a fire might trigger smoke alarms.
Triggered – isn’t just angry or annoyed.
Triggered – isn’t just an eyeroll emoji.
Triggered – isn’t just an opposing viewpoint.
Triggered – isn’t just facts you don’t want to hear.
Triggered – isn’t just someone who doesn’t like what you write, say or sing.
#Triggered suggests you’re either trolling someone or out of words and a decent argument.