The Signal of our Time
What does it mean to be "triggered?"
This term has been casually used to refer to the experience of having an emotional reaction to something. A tigger is in its nature abrupt and of a magnitude.
Feeling triggered isn't just about something rubbing you the wrong way. In the time of coronavirus, it seems like multiple triggers are everywhere.
Well, I get triggered by load shedding – South Africa’s curse of being without power for at least 2 hours just when you are about to start a zoom meeting – and especially from 20:00 to 22:30 as has happened frequently these past weeks. I mean, what must a person do in those dead, dark hours?
In South Africa many people were triggered by the death of the last Apartheid president, F.W. De Klerk. Some jumped with joy, others [conservative whites] were triggered into denouncing the traitor for giving away ‘our land’ and others, like Julius Malema, the Gucci Chief of a small, but loud political party, threatened to disrupt his funeral.
A twenty-something bi-racial South African was triggered to share this recollection:
I was once interrogated by an older white woman who insisted that my parents must have “registered” me as “something” (under the apartheid Population Registration Act, 1950, which FW de Klerk repealed in 1991, two years before I was born). She repeatedly asked me, “but what did your parents register you as?”, to which my answer was, “they didn’t”. She couldn’t comprehend my answer, but that’s really not my problem.
Donald Trump triggered the silent masses of discontented white Americans to aggressively and even violently denounce everything and everyone – including fellow Americans – representing the handing over of America to others [think blacks, Democrats, socialists, Biden and more]. Read in context this trigger from Michael Harriot in The Guardian on 20 November 2021; “It is reasonable for conservatives to assume that Black voters will upset the political equilibrium if they are not systemically suppressed.”
In South Africa we are triggered by World Rugby’s decision to ban our World Champion Winning Coach [WCWC] Rassie Erasmus from all match day activities until September 2022 for having the nerve to point out 36 – captured on video – inexcusable mistakes a referee made during a Springbok / Lions test. Just for the record the referee has now agreed and admitted to 17 of those ‘wrong’ decisions. I mean who are these people to tell our WCWC that he is like former FIFA head, Sepp Blatter and to be banned from the sport. I’m triggered and I feel like a double trigger is flipping somewhere in me. I wonder why Gucci Chief Malema does not call on his revolutionary guard to throw something under the bus!!
Climate Change is a massive trigger. For the past two weeks we have listened to various Queens, Princes, Prime Ministers, Presidents and Celebrities wrestling with this trigger in Glasgow. It was obviously so lame that Greta Thunberg was triggered into denouncing the whole collective leadership of the planet for doing nothing more than “blah, blah, blah” – and I quote here.
Before TRIGGER became such a hot button, we were using a different term when a driver was triggered by slow traffic, or moron drivers, into making a U-turn on a highway and assaulting the offender viciously – either verbally or with a hockey stick [true story]. At the time it was referred to as road-rage. Now we know better; the person was triggered – maybe by being late for a meeting, savouring the idea of a MacDonald’s that was only 5km away, or nursing a hangover which brought on an epic fallout the night before.
Coronavirus is of course the BIGGEST TRIGGER of our time. By a mile. Hundreds of millions of us were literally immobilized in our homes for months. That triggered anger, fear, and disillusionment on a global scale. In America it triggered a culture war around masks and vaccinations. In other countries it triggered anger against governments and their collective inability to tackle the virus to the ground. In France it triggered the French into subsuming their ‘right to freedom of choice’, a great collective French DNA trait, for the sensible Pass Sanitaire.
The approaching summer in South Africa is triggering me. Like John Denver’s famous song:
Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high
Being TRIGGERED is the signal of our time, but don’t confuse the noise for the signal. Also in our early 21st century world we have been triggered like never before - let us try to pivot our mindsets to the sun. The positive. That could make the difference between allowing a trigger to burn us out or to beam us higher.
Einstein has something to say, and as always it behooves us to think about it and internalize it, because positive is still better than negative – whatever the trigger.
“Stay away from negative people, they have a problem for every solution.”