Triggered is more than a buzzword, should not be freely trivialized

Kereece McLean

The word “triggered” has become increasingly politicized by the media and the youth. It has taken on a world of its own, mocking anyone and everyone that shows the slightest bit of emotion. It needs to stop.

Urban Dictionary is used to define slang and colloquial terms, and it proceeds to define “triggered” as “when someone gets offended or gets their feelings hurt, often used in memes to describe feminist, or people with strong victimization.”

This definition is insulting and trivializes the actual meaning of the word. Psychologists originally developed the term to describe “something that sets off a memory or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.”

The medical definition and the Urban Dictionary definition are infinitely different. The key difference is that one describes vulnerability and the other criticizes those that display any emotion.

Exclaiming that someone is triggered in a mocking way is quite insulting to those that suffer from a history of trauma.

The new use of “triggered” is even more insidious because it is being used to silence those who engage in serious conversations about our world. In today’s society, it seems that if you have any emotional response to politics, media, or people, you are suddenly deemed a “triggered” crybaby.

Triggers are real and do occur as a symptom of certain mental conditions. People that experience triggers should never be viewed as weak or less then, especially if they can’t control it.

Emotions are not bad, nor should anyone be ashamed of expressing how they feel, especially in today’s political climate. This new use of the word shames people into never expressing how they feel, which not only hurts public discourse, but undermines those that struggle with psychological triggers.

“Retarded,” a term allocated to those that suffer with Down syndrome, has transitioned into a colloquial term. This transition has caused the term to be removed from the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” and individuals with Down syndrome are now referred to as having an intellectual disability. Changing the use of “triggered” will only continue this cycle of falsely using or altering the meaning of important words related to mental health. It’s imperative that we end this cycle of unimportance.

Words related to psychology or mental illness should never be synonyms for mocking slang. Altering the actual meaning of any of these words downplays their importance and seriousness.

You can’t be triggered if you never suffered from PTSD, anxiety, or any other mental illness. The word in colloquial terms does not, nor should not, exist. It’s time to stop trivializing it.

McLean is an English senior from Houston.