What do you think?

A Question of Books/The Curious eBooker?

What Are Reading Then? Directory

I read a fascinating post from Cage Dunn last night that she wrote and published September 25th entitled A Content Warning and equally as provoking as the content of her topic are the comments left by her readership – it is quite a ‘touchy subject’ it appears. Personally l am in two minds on it ….. both sides of my coin are fully engaged with the subject matter. In some ways it touches on the moral code of our people in many ways.

Please read the post itself, if you follow Cage there is a good chance you have already read this post but it is worth a second read in consideration now to the side topical questions l raise.

If you don’t read it – it principally relates to ‘disclaimers, trigger warnings, content warnings, genre warnings and so on’ and a general heads up to the written contents of books that people read and authors write and publish to the market place for readerships. That maybe the generalisations of today’s genres are not covering with greater satisfaction the full extent that a published book covers?

Cage uses the comparison of films that we see today and the warnings they travel with like: This film has scenes of ”’violence, sexual nature, gun violence and death etc, etc and so on’. That she has started to see books carry the same content warnings. Personally, l haven’t seen any on books just yet, but then l haven’t been buying books of late that might carry some and if they have – in truth, l haven’t seen it.

The question arising is should there be more ‘content warning’ genres available for authors to place onto their book sales so that in the end a reader of the purchased book let’s say the example book here is an Adult themed horror detective story with gruesome and bloodied scenes of death and injury as well as sexual content’ is able to fully understand the exact nature of the book itself.

Currently the book might only be labelled as Fiction in the basic sense, or maybe Adult Fiction – it might further be described as Adult Themed Horror Fiction. The example books cover is a darkly orientated horror sexual theme with blood stains, and the back page description highlights that the content of the book is of a sexual nature with scenes of horror.

Now if l was to pick up this example book with no specific content warnings and all l could see was the cover, read the back page, maybe read some of the introduction or first page and make an assesmment based on my initial findings l would probably be quick to understand that it was horror, sexually themed and possibly dark writing – it would then be down to me if l proceeded to purchase said book or not.

Cage’s concern is how much of a content warning should she add to her own books to further ensure that readers do not purchase the books and then low and behold discover something in the content they were unprepared for?

I can see perfectly well Cage’s plight with regards this especially as the genres available to her are not huge but perhaps too broad …….. l could see it more so in some respects from a blogger’s point of view… of sorts.

I personally have never read anything that has caused me to trigger into some kind of meltdown – whatever that might be – but that is just me – l acknowledge that l am but one person. Occasionally at the top of posts l have added disclaimers usually on sexual content or with regards suicide ideation or topics considered ‘still’ as taboo.

Do we as writers and bloggers need to be more mindful of readers – should it not be sufficient enough that if for instance in the cases of published books that certain elements such as book cover, title, base genre descriptions and forewards and first few pages is ample for a reader to determine what the content is?

I sometimes wonder if we are living in a society of peoples that is too easily offended by things – that maybe readers are becoming too overly sensitive and now need their hands held whilst they select books to read for their pleasure and yet, whilst l struggle with this on one hand – l then think back back to how at times ‘ l add a disclaimer on some of my posts’ in essence a content warning so as to NOT upset some sensitive readers.

Is society now filled with overly sensitive readerships? Do not confuse this with sensitivity readers which are very different to readers themselves and are again different to beta readers. I think we probably do need sensitivity readers for more cultural aspectation of content for sure – l can write as me in my own shoes but l may not be able to write as someone else so clearly but l think there is a danger equally from using a service such as this as it can hamper what is being produced by writers – which then throws more weight over to my question – should we be writing differently for different groups of readers – sensitives and not sensitives?

Has the presence of social media seemingly tipped the scale overboard for the increased arrival of overly sensitive and easily offended readers in the last twenty or so years? Or alternatively maybe overly sensitive readers were always out there and all social media has done is introduced a way of hearing them more clearly and finally allowing them to actually be heard or is it all just horribly unbalanced?

The whole subject on content warning fascinates me and provokes many responses from me.

In the last couple of years l have received complaints from readers about my content being too real and l should tone it down! My instant thought then is ‘Am l being asked to censor my personal life content? Because l have no wish to do that – it’s my life, l lived it, l earned the rights to write about it from my perspective’. But l can equally respect that not everyone wants to read that content and more so if it contains content they might find offensive’, but l am talking and writing as a blogger over that of an author looking to produce a book for published sales – there is a huge chasm of difference with the demographic marketing and promotions of that kind of content.

As bloggers/writers and authors whilst we should have the freedom to express ourselves as long as our content is not illegal or detrimental or causes direct harm to people – should we allow the sensitivities of readerships to censor our content or alter the way we creatively write content for reading? Will our content and imaginations not become compromised if we continue to write fearing that we may offend or upset or alarm readerships? Does everything written now need to carry a menu of content warnings that it makes it start to resemble a comic book?

Are we becoming globally a nation of readerships that simply isn’t able to select a book off the shelves and see first hand if a book is suitable for their reading or not? Should all books now carry automatically a strip of visual content warnings like that of the films?

I don’t know, but l am deeply captivated by this topic and reading Cage’s post yesterday made me stop and think.

What do you think?

Should our writing, all our written content now carry visual content warnings?

Are readers becoming way too overly sensitive to written content these days?

Would the presence of a fuller listing of visual content warnings hinder or help book sales?

Do authors of self -published works include visual content icons to their books and have you received comments, remarks or observations on their inclusions?

As bloggers how often do you include disclaimers to your written content and do we not have a responsibility to do so when appropriate?

23 thoughts on “What do you think?

  1. I think content warnings can be useful to prevent readers from unexpectedly coming across highly charged emotional content like rape, domestic violence, suicide, etc., with the purpose being to give people the choice to avoid trauma triggers. People can and will be offended by just about anything, so I’m not sure how beneficial it would be to try to stickhandle around that.

    1. Hey Ashley, l agree with you – l can understand how the traumas you have mentioned could cause some readers upset and that so many people are very easily offended these days whatever is said , spoken or written.

      As to the manipulation or coercion side of things, that could literally be a very sticky situation completely. Thanks for commenting – genuinely appreciate the input πŸ™‚

  2. Oh for pete’s sake – just like a tv show or movie – with books it’s even easier – as soon as the content starts making you uncomfortable CLOSE THE DAMN BOOK.

    1. That’s a spot on answer Grace – l actually agree with you – my philosophy and in fact my original answer to Cage’s post ran to the same tune.

      If l don’t like what l am reading, l simply discard it and move on.

      However as l am sure you can also acknowledge we are writing in a society that has readers who believe that writers need to pamper to their every whim – because the downfall of social media is that it makes people think they have the right to voice everything that is on their minds. Non writers instantly become wannabee journalists.

      People have the expectations that they can demand what they want .. we are already living in a society that have been raised with a different code of ethics to the code you were brought up to believe and live by, and my code of ethics will only be marginally different to yours but not in a detrimental essence – however those brought up in the mid eighties to mid 90’s were parented to believe that the world owed them and not that they had to work hard to get what they wanted.

      There are many societies today Grace … but this is a cultural society issue.

      Now if you are trying to make money from your writing, then authors have to at times take certain considerations into account – whereas many bloggers do not . I don’t make money from my blog nor my writing so it matters not to me directly but if you are trying to sell books or even establish a reputation with brands – then l am guessing that maybe one needs to look at things differently.

      Whilst l don’t disagree with some of the necessities that we as writers whatever our calibre and direction is – l don’t agree with all. One side of me struggles with today’s thinking – does this make me ageist, just cynical, old fashioned or just a down to earth realist – that side is why can’t an adult be able to select a book off the shelf make a basic decision to purchase a book – read it and love it or read it and discard it and then simply move on to the next adventure instead of moaning about everything including Sundays?

      1. I doubt writers of any caliber, and I suppose I am talking fiction here, take into account what might offend someone. Writers of lifestyle type books, articles, journalism are definitely writing to their specific audience and therefore I am sure they are self-editing and giving their fan base what they want. That would be simple economics. When it comes to making money from any product, you give the people what they want.

        Personal/hobby bloggers – that’s a decision they make for themselves. Write what they want and have a readership that enjoys the content or be wishy-washy, half and half and self censor. Like other entertainment media, if you don’t like what you are seeing, stop looking. If you are trying to do both – be true to yourself and please the public – well, that is a fine line to walk and if is your choice in how you walk it.

        Most books come with a description of the storyline/contents – I have skipped books because that information was enough for me to know I wasn’t interested. And yes, there are ways to frame that information so that people with have button-pushing subjects can then know that book is not for them. There are entire genres I avoid because even the basic premise of the story is of no interest to me. You see? I’m an adult, I can make these decisions and choices. I would never presume to tell someone how to write their story – fact or fiction – that is called censorship.

        1. See this Grace?

          I’m an adult, I can make these decisions and choices. I would never presume to tell someone how to write their story – fact or fiction – that is called censorship.

          That’s the answer to this question.

          We are adults and therefore we ‘should’ be able to recognise what is good for us or not.

          Like you, l see a book, judge the cover, read the title, read the back cover – l will know in sixty seconds if l want to adventure with it or not, l don’t need to be a rocket scientist to reach that conclusion.

  3. I have never had to warn my readers regarding the content of my posts. As far books are concerned, most people read reviews before buying or reading them. I think it’s a question of how much more sensitive the society has become in respect to content?

        1. Oh right, interesting – l always read the reviews of products if l am looking to buy, never thought of reviewing authors and their books, l usually read the back cover and go from there.

  4. I have used warnings a few times on my posts. Once when I posted pictures of my pump being filled via a needle. Some people freak at the sight of needles

    And once when I went into graphic details about my severe constipation.

    I think it’s fair to give people the choice on topics like that whether they’d rather not read.

    I do think that there are too many “snowflakes” ready to take offense at everything. Our culture has swung too far into the P.C. realm. It seems to happen with any changes. It goes too far then mellows out.

    As for books, fiction… I don’t think warnings are necessary. If a person is easily triggered by certain things, it’s their responsibility to look after their own mental health and avoid “entertainment” that might include triggering things. Fiction in movies & books is entertainment… non-essential… a choice to consume or not.

    Getting off my soap box nowπŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚


    1. Hey Grandma, now that’s a cracking answer – l agree with books, like music and films – it is down to an individual to be able to judge their own ability to recognise whether they should or should listen, read or watch something.

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