Triggered meme meaning

Trigger | Know Your Meme


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"Trigger" is a term referring to any stimulus that evokes the memory of a traumatic event or episode. While the word is most commonly used in the context of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it has been since adopted by those in the social justice blogosphere to refer to any topical issue that is deemed contentious or debatable, and to a lesser extent, the term has been also re-appropriated as an ironic term used by their detractors to criticize certain issues that may be seen as too trivial or irrelevant to discuss in length.


The word originated from the psychological phrase "trauma trigger,"[1] or something that causes a traumatic past event to come back into memory. The concept of triggering was initially formulated in 1918 in relation to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),[2] a disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, indicated by recurring distressing flashbacks.[10] According to BuzzFeed,[10] the first mentions of triggering and "trigger warnings" were posted to feminist message boards discussing sexual assault in the late 1990s.


In the early 2000s, Livejournal users started posting warnings for potentially triggering fanfiction.[10] On July 9th, 2002, Livejournal[11] user innocent warned followers that she was pro-anorexia, adding that entries may be "triggering" to those with eating disorders (shown below).

On July 1st, 2003, Livejournal[12] user morbid-thoughts submitted a quiz titled "What Type of Self-Mutilation Are you?(Warning:Triggering Pictures). " By 2007, "trigger warning" was used over 60 times on the blogging platform.[10][13] On November 2nd, 2008, Twitter user @jlandrith[14] tweeted a link to a blog post accompanied by the phrase "trigger warning" (shown below).

On April 13th, 2010, the news site True/Slant[16] published an article by writer Susannah Breslin, who criticized feminists for using the phrase too generously. On February 5th, 2011, the "Fuck Yeah, Trigger Warnings" Tumblr[15] blog was launched, which describes itself as being "dedicated to education and awareness about the proper usage and necessity of trigger warnings." On August 29th, 2012, the feminist news blog Feministing[17] published an article by writer Maya Dusenbery, who admitted that she doesn't "really believe in trigger warnings" while still using them in articles. On December 15th, 2014, the news site Reason reported that a University of Michigan student who mocked trigger warnings in a satirical op-ed for The Michigan Review [18] had the doorway to his apartment vandalized by those who were offended by the article.

Melody Hensley's PTSD Claims

In April 2014, Twitter user Melody Hensley claimed that cyberbullies caused her PTSD.[6] The story was subsequently covered by various news sites, including The Daily Dot,[3] The Daily Mail[4] and Fashion Times.[5]

In Homestuck

In the online webcomic Homestuck, the character Kankri Vantas[7] often uses the term, which author Andrew Hussie confirmed was inspired by its use on Tumblr.[8]

On 4chan

In December 2014, 4chan's /pol/ (politics) board was updated to with a scrolling "[Trigger Warning]" to sarcastically indicate that all posts on the board were potentially offensive (shown below).

Search Interest

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Trauma Trigger

[2] Wikipedia – PTSD

[3] Dailydot – Misogynist trolls have turned Storify into a harassment tool

[4] The Daily Mail – 'Twitter gave me PTSD': Woman claims mean comments and 'cyberstalking' gave her an illness usually suffered by WAR VETERANS

[5] Fashion Times – Woman Claims Twitter Gave Her PTSD: ‘Mean Comments and Cyberstalking Caused the Disease via archive. org’

[6] Fox8 – Woman: ‘Twitter Gave Me PTSD’

[7] MS Paint Adventures Wikia – Kankri Vantas

[8] Twitter – @andrewhussie

[10] BuzzFeed – How The Trigger Warning Took Over The Internet

[11] Livejournal – innocent

[12] Livejournal – morbid-thoughts

[13] Livejournal – search for trigger warning

[14] Twitter – @jlandrith

[15] Tumblr – Fuck Yeah Trigger Warnings

[16] Wayback Machine – Trigger warning

[17] Feministing – The Wednesday Weigh-in

[18] Michigan Review – Do the Left Thing

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We Need To Stop Using Words Like “Triggered”, Unless Talking About Mental Health | by Alison Rollins

By: Alison Rollins

TW: Somewhat graphic details of personal experience with panic attacks.

I scroll through Facebook and stumble on the thousandth video I’ve seen today. It’s a motorcycle video from someone called MaxWrist, and they say they’re triggered when someone waves them on when in front of them. I’m pretty sure they don’t have PTSD (if they do, I sincerely apologize). They’re just aggravated. Another article on the DailyWire I see is called “SJWs Triggered By ‘Green Book’ Winning Best Picture”.

“Triggered” has become a word for those who are easily offended, shocked at something, or being sensitive. I get it, words change meaning. But to those who experience mental health neurodivergencies such as PTSD and anxiety disorders, being “triggered” can be a serious matter. I’ll speak on this with my own personal experience.

I’m not talking about being overly sensitive about some internet meme. My panic attacks have certain triggers. Being in large crowds of people, being hungry, being social after not really having left the house that day. Being in a situation where I’m reminded of dark times I’ve had in the past. Being triggered for me means bringing about a sometimes overwhelming sense of dread, a sense of existential absurdity that things are the way they are. I struggle to stifle the obsession with these thoughts so that they don’t spiral to the point that I feel like I’m walking around in a movie. A movie — oh cool, you say — nope, it’s not cool at all. It’s like being detached from reality.

The word “triggered” has been used for decades to describe the situation someone with PTSD is in when they are reminded of a traumatic experience at some point in their life. So why are people using the word “triggered” as an often politically charged insult or even describe themselves as triggered when they see something even remotely containing shock value?

The explosion of people using the word in a politically charged, insulting, or joking way comes from people with a history of trauma needing a safe space to discuss things without having to relive that trauma. Additionally, discourse around the need for trigger warnings on certain content has led people to equate trigger warnings to censorship, but I won’t really get into that.

Both safe spaces and trigger warnings are necessary for people who have experienced trauma, but the word “triggered” has been to used to jokingly insult people who are being perceived as overly sensitive or overly politically correct: “Oh, you’re offended that I used that word? You must be so fragile and triggered that you need a safe space! But it’s America, so I’m allowed to say whatever I want.”

A popular word choice for pages on Facebook that make fun of easily offended people, apparently.

The thing is, there are people who are ACTUALLY triggered. They don’t want to be forced to relive whatever trauma they’ve experienced. They don’t want to trigger episodes of PTSD or panic attacks. “Well, suck it up and learn to control your triggers!” Um, duh, that’s what we’re trying to do, by going to therapy and doing things that help us manage them. But people shouldn’t be forced to face their triggers head on unless they’re ready to.

Being triggered has nothing to do with me being a “liberal snowflake” as people like to call it (thanks, I do love snow), nothing to do with a “sensitive” comment about being politically correct, and nothing to do with being temporarily shocked at a video on the internet. Let’s stop making “triggered” a political thing and a way to put people down. I hear the responses coming now:

“Well I’m not going to be censored!” “It’s just a word!” “You’re getting triggered by people using the word triggered!”

Ultimately, it’s your choice whether you use the word or not. The point of this article is to make people aware where the word “triggered” comes from. There are people out there who experience triggers that can be very scary — they aren’t using the word lightly. If you’re interested in the etymology of the word “triggered”, I recommend taking a look at this great timeline on

Trigger - I know your meme

Date: 08/15/2016Author: Alexander Leskov 0 comments

Attention! The material may contain a trigger!

Trigger is information that can cause unpleasant emotions, anxiety, fear in a person. Despite the fact that the word is usually used in the context of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there are a number of disadvantaged citizens who are not indifferent to the fate of disadvantaged citizens who have attached a slightly different meaning to the word: a trigger is any topical controversial issue. In response to such self-activity, opponents of the movement developed a new, ironic meaning of the term: a trigger is a trifling, obvious issue that does not require detailed consideration at all. nine0003


Word taken from psychology:

Trigger (from the English trigger) - an event that causes a person suffering from PTSD to experience a sudden psychological trauma, which in itself is not frightening or traumatic. (sauce)

The concept of triggering was originally formulated in 1918 in a paper on post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the American website BuzzFeed, the first mentions of “trigger warnings” appeared on feminist boards in the nineties. nine0003


In the early 2000s, LiveJournal users began labeling their posts with warnings about potentially triggered content. Guys from the same Buzzfeed wrote about this phenomenon. On July 9, 2002, a user named innocent warned readers that she supported the movement to slowly kill herself through systematic malnutrition (pro-anorexia), adding that posts could be triggered for people with digestive disorders (as far as I understand, in Russian language has no analogue to the word "trigger", so you have to be content with full borrowing). nine0003

On July 1, 2003, on the same LiveJournal, user morbid-thoughts filed a poll “What Type of Self-Mutilation Are you? (Warning: Triggering Pictures)” By 2007, "trigger warning" had been used more than 60(!!!) times on the blogging platform that Lebedev lived alone.

November 2, 2008, a Twitter user @jlandrith posted a link with the caption "trigger warning".

13 On April 2010, the True/Slant news site published an article by Susannah Breslin that criticized feminists for using the phrase too often and inappropriately.On February 5, 2011, a tumbler blog called “Fuck Yeah, Trigger Warnings” appeared.29In August 2012, the feminist news blog Feministing posted an article by Maya Dusenbery, who admitted that she does not believe in trigger warnings, although she uses them in her articles. On December 15, 2014, the news portal Reason reported on a debacle at the apartment of a University of Michigan student who mocked trigger warnings in a satirical article for The Michigan Review. The main version is the revenge of those who are especially hurt and offended.

Melody Hensley's disease

In April 2014, Twitter user Melody Hensley reported that online bullies caused her post-traumatic stress disorder. The story received extensive media coverage: The Daily Dot, The Daily Mail and Fashion Times.

meme girl

Made it to the boards

In December 2014, 4chan's political board received a sarcastic "trigger warning" label, which hints that all the content in the section is potentially offensive. nine0003


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Trigger - what is it? This term has taken root in the vocabulary of psychologists and psychiatrists, gamers and programmers, physicists and doctors. The word "trigger" comes from the mouths of teenagers and PhDs.

What is the reason for this popularity? nine0003

Well, it would be nice to understand at least in general terms its meanings in various areas, so as not to get into trouble. I think it's time to figure out what a trigger is and what it is eaten with (or is it inedible?).

General essence of the term Trigger

The word “trigger” in English means “ trigger ”, “launch”. The literal translation reflects the essence of this concept:

an element that activates a certain system. nine0003

The weapon analogy will help visualize the meaning of this enigmatic term. When the trigger is triggered, the sound of a shot is heard (an active action takes place, the situation changes). Trigger - this is the pressed hook, in other words, a stimulating kick, Gagarin's "Let's go!".

Sounds vague because the term has many meanings. This is just the essence, and kicks, events and situations are different. So the term can have different meanings. Now let's move on to the specifics, and everything will become clear. nine0003

What is a trigger in psychology

When talking about a trigger, psychologists draw an analogy (what is it?) with a toggle switch that temporarily "switches" the thoughts of a person and forces him to perform unconscious actions. "Switches" can be any signals entering the brain (auditory, tactile, visual, olfactory, gustatory).

Psychological triggers are factors that are not traumatic in and of themselves, but can cause strong re-experiencing of past experiences (or some of its elements). nine0003

How it works

A person has a developed sensory memory (even those who could not learn “Green Oak at Lukomorye” at school), and this sometimes makes life very difficult.

Under the influence of stimuli (smells, melodies, photographs, stills from films, fragments of phrases), strong memories awaken. Everything is long in the past, but the brain helpfully draws a parallel with the present. "Traditions of ancient times" suddenly evoke real emotions, and often actions. nine0003

Psychological triggers vary in strength. Some cause an uncontrollable storm of emotions and actions, others are easily overcome.

Here is a visual picture:

  1. A girl who has undergone treatment for anorexia, when she sees a photograph of a very thin person, begins to exhaust herself with hunger again.
  2. An elderly person, noticing a line in the store, without hesitation gets into it: something worthwhile is offered here (“thrown away” a scarce product), you have to take it! nine0122
  3. A woman experiences panic attacks every time she inhales the scent of lilac blossoms: she smelled it when she was attacked by a rapist in the park.
  4. A procrastinator enters a social network and “turns it off” for an indefinite period. No one knows when he will return to work.

A trigger can cause an emotional reaction before the person understands why he suddenly became scared or sad.

Getting out of influence: how to overcome psychological triggers

There is no need to be afraid of triggers, one must learn to control them, and then the influence of "triggers" will come to naught.

First, it is important to understand: what exactly triggers the mechanism that turns on the “autopilot”? The answer to this question will help, when confronted with a trigger, to see the situation somewhat detached, and this will make it easier to control it. If you recognize the beginning of an undesirable reaction in time, it will be easier to extinguish an emotional outburst and prevent unconscious actions. Watch how you feel !

To suppress the unwanted impulse from the appearance of a trigger, it is worth looking for alternative ways of behavior. The smell of lilacs and a surging wave of panic? We mentally read “At Lukomorye the oak is green”! A little exaggerated (what is it?), but the essence is obvious.

The trigger is the weapon of marketers

This term is very much loved by marketers because it serves them flawlessly, bringing profit. Having studied what it is in terms of psychology, sales specialists build entire marketing strategies based on creating mechanisms that trigger the desire to buy. nine0003

Real triggers that work well in marketing are:

  1. A time limit that hints at a shortage. “Prices are valid until the end of the month”, or something like that. If we are talking about an online store, here the picture is often complemented by a countdown timer. And now it clicks in the brain: urgently buy, otherwise I will miss the chance!
  2. Thirst for freebies. “2 products for the price of 1”, “Buy and get this very valuable thing as a gift”, “Every third bun with a 50% discount” - familiar? The bonus system is a chord from the same song. nine0085
  3. Bestseller. “If everyone buys it, I will buy it too. After all, I'm not worse than others! Crowd trigger in action.
  4. Common habits and attitudes. The phrases "GOST", "taste of childhood", "German quality" are often decisive when choosing.
  5. Fear is a trigger that always hits the target. Everyone is afraid of something: extra pounds, loneliness, old age, illness, mice, poverty...
  6. The desire to have something exclusive. Buy an author's course, a unique blouse, a handmade bag - few people can resist such an offer! nine0122

A video full of marketing triggers from start to finish:

Countering such tricks is difficult, but possible. The recommendations from the previous section are relevant here as well. Know the "enemy in the face", listen to your feelings in order to prevent spontaneous actions.

There was an irresistible desire to buy 7 packages of cereals for the price of 6? We exhale and act according to a proven scheme: Pushkin, "Lukomorye". Helps!

Triggers in circuitry

The moment of transition from lyrics to physics has come (computer science will not do without it either): the concept of “trigger” is actively used in computer technology and electronics.

This is the name of pulsed electronic devices (transistors, thyristors, comparators) that can stay for a long time in one of two stable states alternating under the action of external signals. In fact, this is an externally controlled (by small electrical signals) valve with two positions - open or closed (zero or one). nine0003

In addition, these devices have the ability to store binary information. They are used in different elements of computing systems: processors, registers, RAM. There are billions of these “triggers” alone.

Typically, flip-flops are used to generate an output signal that is perceived as enabling or informing other nodes of the digital circuit (“the process is on!”). "Process flag" is what these devices are often referred to as. The number of trigger inputs depends on its functional purpose, and there are usually two outputs: direct and inverse. nine0003

According to the method of recording information, there are asynchronous and synchronized (or clocked) triggers. In asynchronous recording is continuous, it is determined by the information signals acting at a particular moment on the inputs. If this happens only during the action of the clock signal, then we are talking about a clocked trigger.

Among such devices, the Schmidt trigger stands out. This is the name of a two-position switching element (it has one analog input and one two-level output) with a hysteresis loop (translated from Greek as “delay”, “lag”: the system reacts to the impact depending on its current state). nine0003

Schmidt triggers are actively used in electronic devices in order to reduce interference in circuits, especially in circuits whose purpose is the interaction between digital and analog sections: the digital signal can be distorted here.

What is a trigger in medicine

The term we are interested in often sounds in medical circles (and not only among psychologists and psychiatrists). Doctors call triggers provoking factor , under the influence of which changes begin in the body (more often - unfavorable). nine0003

The medical term "trigger" is strongly associated with asthma, migraine, epilepsy - chronic diseases, periodically aggravated under the influence of weather conditions, environmental factors, food (they act as a "trigger" ).

In hypnosis, the word "trigger" means a kind of "key" that is set during the session. It is used to instantly put the patient into a hypnotic sleep.

Another medical concept on the topic of interest to us is “ovulation trigger”. This is the name of specialized medications that stimulate the process of ovulation in women with problems of the reproductive system. Most often, this “trigger” is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). nine0003

The expression " trigger points " is also found in medicine. These are special areas on the body that are hypersensitive to external influences due to local muscle spasm. Most often they are located in muscle tissue.

These spots feel like small hard lumps. When you press them, the pain “shoots” sharply, hence the name. To get rid of such pain zones, you need to contact a neurologist: Pushkin will not help here.

What does it mean for gamers

If you heard the word "trigger" in a conversation between two teenagers, it does not mean that they are discussing the principle of the Schmidt valve or an effective marketing strategy. Most likely, we are talking about a computer game, and teenagers are gamers.

This term they call various mechanisms or objects, the action of which in one way or another affects the development of the game plot (an explosion is heard, an enemy attack begins, etc.).

There are triggers that move selected objects in any direction, changing their color and transparency (this also works for the environment). With the help of competent use of the "trigger" in the game, you can destroy the object and restore it. nine0003

Here are a couple more concepts from the world of computer games on the topic:

  1. Trigger zone - a section of the game space that tracks the presence or absence of an object;
  2. Trigger point - "trigger" by which the player checks the distance from himself to the object of interest.

The world of computer games is full of diverse "triggers", new ones periodically appear. There is even a virtual switch that disables other switches. Oh how! And you thought games were just...


In general, the word "trigger" gained particular popularity after the spread of English-language memes on the Internet, called Triggered (means "to be on edge, annoyed, hooked on something." In the context of this topic, a trigger is a certain factor,

A four-panel picture is usually used as a meme here. Nos. 3 and 4)

At first it was a joke of bloggers, aimed at people prone to anorexia and bulimia (what is it?). When feminists (who are they?) became the heroes of such pictures, Triggered got a “face”: Chanty Binks, a red-haired girl with glasses. This meme is most often associated with her.

Why are these simple pictures so popular? The reason is simple: they are very vital. Everyone has something that can "trigger".

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