'Dark Jokes' on the Internet, and why they're harmful.

I've seen a lot of people using the statement, "it's just a joke" to excuse behavior which can be very hurtful to others. Many times people will use "freedom of speech" in their point as well.
I just wanted to bring a calm and rational perspective to the table, as a survivor of multiple forms of abuse, with severe PTSD, as I know that most people are not intentionally making these jokes to cause harm.

To those who do not understand PTSD and it's affects on the victims:

PTSD is a very serious psychiatric disorder which can be caused by any single– or repeated–traumatic events. It can take different forms, and everybody has different levels of trauma they can endure before they're affected by PTSD. One person's trauma might be something another person could just shrug off after a day or so. This doesn't make PTSD survivors weak, each person is just unique in what they find traumatic.

When someone comes across something that is 'triggering' for them, that means that something reminded them of their traumatic event, and regardless of reason, their mind has taken them back to that traumatic event. In this moment, it's impossible to rationalize, because it feels as though they really are back in that traumatic situation, and their entire body is telling them they are in danger. This is not intentional on the victim's end, nor is it their fault.

The affects of PTSD vary for everyone. Some people get visual flashbacks of the traumatic events, others just have the same (very strong) icky feeling they had while they were there. Some people internalize their issues and feel it from within, others show outward signs, such as shaking, stuttering, throwing up, and even seizing. There are many other physical and mental symptoms they can carry, but it's a very horrible thing to go through, and having to live with it, often times for the rest of their life, is a truly taxing thing.

Now that that's out of the way...
'Triggering jokes' are often times argued about, like whether it should be acceptable to make them or not. Lots of people fight for their freedom to make edgy jokes, but should there be a limit on what's acceptable to joke about?

I personally like to think of it this way:
Think about your day-to-day life, Would you say the same things you do with your friends to your grandmother? Some of you may say yes, but try to really think about that comparison from a general stance. We usually change our speech to best fit the comforts of those around us. A joke made with a group of friends you know is comfortable with them, is vastly different than a joke made in a large group that you don't really know.

The issue is that, with the Internet, we never can truly know who may see it and how they could react. Sure, you have the *freedom* to say whatever you want (within the webhost's rules & guidelines), but I always like to think of the cost VS benefit of what I say online. With highly sensitive topics, the cost (potentially triggering someone) outweighs the benefit of making that joke. I'd like to remind you guys of the phrase, "there's a time and place".

Now, I still think that there are some things that truly should be off-limits, but I think that is where the water gets muddied. I can't ask everyone to have the same moral values as I do, but I can certainly choose whether or not I'm comfortable associating with people who have morals that I don't agree with. I'm not going to ask you not to make edgy jokes, but I do wish to inform everyone of the potential affects on others, and why they should at least be wary of where they make them. You never know what people are going through, and asking people with PTSD to stay off the Internet just isn't an option. The world revolves around the Internet these days, and nobody should have to make that much of a sacrifice.

If you would like a list of commonly triggering topics, I can provide those, but I'd rather not list them here for the sake of any sensitive readers who may be looking at this! (hello! <3 )

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope this helps some people to understand better what we have to deal with!

Lots of love,
Brittney Ackerman

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