I’m putting a warning up about this post. I’m going to describe, in detail, extreme gore. This may be upsetting to many people and *warning you* about that content is not, in any fucking way what-so-ever, anti-free-speech.
Alright – here we go.
It’s against my better judgment to write this. Writing this is going to make me vulnerable, and in my current line of work (still an administrator of The Block Bot) disclosing this information is probably not prudent…but whatever.
I want to write this, because I want to be in solidarity with people who have been brave enough to discuss it. It may also explain why I’m as passionate as I am about correcting people who pull the whole “Twitter PTSD hardy-har-har” thing. The *only* way I can do that is to be explicit. It’s not going to get through to some people unless I do. So please, I’m fucking serious – MOST PEOPLE SHOULD STOP READING NOW.
I’m also going to preface this with – I’m fine. So please — no need to get all gushy about it. This was quite a while ago. I’m good. I’m not lying. I’m okay.
For a while, Twitter was really bad about deleting accounts even those that were really really bad. So, as a blocker for the block bot, I would occasionally go on “lulz troll” exhibitions. One account would lead to another and I would block several accounts in a setting. Depending on the content, I would report images to Twitter.
Most of the pictures were just gross. There were lots of scat pictures (NOT my thing). I remember a picture of a very attractive woman, crouching down with her dress up, with shit smeared over her privates. Of course, there were classics like the picture of the lady in the bathtub. Goatse – whatever.
There were also brutal pictures of war: There were children with half of their heads blown off. Burn victims. Decapitated heads. One particularly horrible picture was of several dead toddlers hanging by the neck from the tops of grass houses.
There were police pictures: Murder victims mostly or pictures of people who had been beaten to a pulp or whose body had been mangled by a traumatic accident.
One of the more memorable pictures was of a man having sex with the bottom half of a corpse. I convinced myself that one was not actually real. It seemed like it might have been faked – the corpse was much too pink to actually have bled out. A corpse cut in half like that would have likely been more blue.
The specter of shock imagery is something that I’ve desensitized myself to over time. I spent a portion of my misspent youth with *edgy* performance artists. I *know* that horrible things happen in the world. These are *just pictures* right?
Then I came across an image of a girl, maybe 4 years old, in a frilly blue dress, crying, scared, and chained to a bed.
In all the other pictures of children, the kids were dead or in the hospital. It was obvious that most of the gore pictures were probably taken by a news team or a detective or someone after-the-fact. The video of the man beating the shit out of a woman with a two-by-four as she cowered in the corner of a room with her arms up trying to shield herself – it took me a while to shake that one. This picture – of a little girl being tortured – stuck.
I tried not to think about it. I tried not to see her face. I tried not to think about what was going to happen to her. I tried to convince myself that *right after that picture was taken* that she was rescued and she is fine and she is doing well. I tried to convince myself that the most probable outcome was not true.
I couldn’t get it out of my head. It would come back to me over-and-over-and-over. When my mind had a quite moment, I would see her desperation. I felt angry and helpless and mad-at-myself for being as upset as I was.
Usually, these nasty images might *stay with me* a day or so. This one haunted me for months – and I swear the only reason I can write this post is because fluoxetine is a hell of a drug.
So, “Twitter PTSD” fucking hilarious right guys?
*Triggered* – so funny!
Seeing pervasive and unrelenting ridicule of someone who dealt with this sort of shit directed at her for years and was honest about how it affected her (you know who I’m talking about) is enraging to me. I thought it was about time that I was half as courageous as she has been.
So yeah – see you at next year’s #thetriggering assholes.
PS: Want to clarify that I don’t have a PTSD diagnosis. The experience would be better described as dealing with “intrusive thoughts” and serotonin reuptake inhibitors are prescribed for that and many other issues that are associated with that pathway. The reason I am taking fluoxetine is more complicated than being disturbed by a picture I saw online. The medication has significantly helped my ability to avoid dwelling on it, however. I mention the “twitter PTSD” thing in this context only because that meme seems to mock the whole concept of being upset or psychologically affected in any way by online content – not just specifically developing an anxiety disorder.