A friend of mine requested that I write about this topic, and after seeing a video that’s been circulating my social media lately, I decided it was time.
When you are a shooting survivor, there are certain things that are hard to see in your feed. At least, there are for me, and I’ve heard the same from other survivors.
I’m not asking people to tiptoe around, always trying to figure out what to share in their feed without upsetting someone. Sometimes, things need to be shared that I personally can’t watch, because they’re important for other people to see.
But, here’s the best, BEST thing you can do. If you know that you know a shooting survivor, and you want to share something in your feed that:
- Directly mentions a shooting
- Depicts/discusses gun violence themes
- Depicts/discusses graphic violence (bombings in Syria, for example)
Then I encourage you to send that person a private message, and ask – “should I share this? How can I share this?”
The messages I have appreciated most from friends are when friends have messaged me to alert me that a shooting has happened, so to be careful on my feed. Or to alert me of a particular video I should be careful watching. Or they message me to ask what kind of trigger warning they should put on something before sharing.
These all mean a lot to me and are extremely helpful, because then I can:
- Make a decision about whether to be on social media that day
- Make a decision about whether I am okay to view a certain video/read a post
- Makes me feel considered and protected on my social media account because I know they are thinking about how to label things
On top of all that, I of course do a lot of my own screening for self care. I almost never watch videos out of Syria, for instance, because one of my biggest triggers is children screaming/people in distress. I can’t deal with it, so I choose not to watch it.
Even with doing my own screening, however, I can’t even explain my level of gratitude when I know that people are watching out for me on social media. I so appreciate when they send me a message to ask about how to share or whether to share something. Because one of the shittiest things for me is to be surprised by something in my feed. Getting blindsided by something is a part of a trigger for me, too… there’s a huge element of surprise and sneak attack involved in a shooting, and that’s hard to deal with. So it honestly feels PROTECTIVE for me when people are looking out for my wellbeing.
I also want to address the current video circulating. I’ve seen it mainly from Buzzfeed. It depicts a cute relationship beginning between a boy and girl scratching words into a desk. I (THANKFULLY) knew that the content required a trigger warning before watching it (Thank you, Lauren), or I would have freaked out. At the end, out of nowhere it is revealed that in the background, a student has been planning a shooting all along.
The problematic part of this video for me is the -out of nowhere- piece. There is a significant part of a shooting that is the unexpected factor; someone just starts shooting “out of nowhere.” You get blindsided. In my event, I never even saw the shooter and so there’s an aspect of “out of my field of vision” that’s really triggering for me personally, also.
If I had watched this video without a trigger warning, I would have had a breakdown. It just so happens this video is also circulating this week, and on Friday this week I have the 9th anniversary of my shooting. I don’t always know where I’m going to be emotionally during what I call “anniversary/hell week”, and so it was particularly helpful to have a trigger warning this week. Furthermore – the Sandy Hook shooting anniversary is on December 14th. There are lots of survivors out there right now.
So, with that in mind, I’m asking/imploring you to share this video with a content or trigger warning. Wording like “Trigger Warning: Gun violence/mass shooting” is helpful. Or even “themes of mass shooting.” Something to let us survivors know whether we should choose to watch it or not. It helps us to feel more protected out in the world, which is sometimes a daily struggle. I think I can speak for more than just me when I say that we would all appreciate your thoughtfulness.