Can fandom bring back the concept of a squick?









No for real in 2k15

Can fandom bring back the concept of a squick

A “squick” was a trope or topic that made the reader deeply uncomfortable, even might cause anxiety or intense emotional reactions

Everyone’s squicks were personal and diverse, and it was considered polite to say, “sorry I can’t read this because it squicks me, but you have fun in your corner doing what you doing”

Can we bring that back and reserve “trigger” for MI people who mean “if I see this I will have flashbacks and dissociate for hours”

I wasn’t aware this concept had fallen out of fandom.  Seriously, bring it back, it’s useful as hell.

Key to the concept of “squick,” as it was first explained to me lo these many years ago, is that it is not a value judgment.  If I say “mpreg is gross,” that’s a negative statement about mpreg (and, by extension, about those who enjoy writing or reading about it).  If I say “mpreg squicks me,” that’s a value-neutral statement about me and my emotional reactions and how they affect my enjoyment of fiction.

And, as OP says, it does not carry the implications of intensity or trauma that “trigger” does.  (Although I will point out that a trigger doesn’t have to cause flashbacks or dissociation.  There are people a lot better qualified than I am to talk about that.)

Yes, yes, yes please to all of this!

squick: Something that makes you go “ewwww” and wish you had never seen/read it. Something that makes you deeply uncomfortable. Something you’re not interested in reading/seeing/thinking about, ever.

trigger: Something that you associate with/reminds you of a past trauma (mental, emotional, or physical) and therefore triggers your personal reaction to trauma (be it flashbacks, panic/anxiety attacks, unhealthy behaviours, a crying jag, whatever).

Please, please, please don’t use them interchangeably.

I may have reblogged this before but it’s worth doing again: such a useful concept. 


In the absence of a ticky-box system for them, is there a tagging convention on AO3 that differentiates squick warnings from content warnings?  I usually screen for squicks based on the tags designed to appeal to readers – PWP, fine! tentacles, not my thing thx!  It never occurred to me to look for informative squick tags, even though I have always used them in talking about fic and in fic reccs, since back in the LJ days.

As someone with both genuine triggers and a significant stable of squicks, differentiating between them is important to how I choose and relate to fics I read.  I can read around a squick and be just fine.  I cannot read a story with a trigger in it – there’s too much risk I’ll stumble into it rather than seeing it coming.  Squicks and triggers are definitely distinct from one another.

The thing about squicks is not having to disclose why you don’t like it. You don’t have to tell every single bully in the world what you’re hurt by. All they can do is guess which ones are dislikes and which ones will actually hurt you, so they’re a lot more likely to be wrong and just mildly annoying.

The thing is, asking for tags to differentiate squicks from triggers is a fundamentally impossible request. Content notes, warnings, squick warnings and trigger warnings can only be meaningfully differentiated from one another on the level of the individual reader. Writers can only tag for what’s in the story, not for each individual reader’s personal reactions to it.

I’d just like to mention that triggers aren’t exclusive to trauma. For example, food mentions can be a trigger for people with eating disorders.

I’d define a trigger as something that, when you are exposed to it, exacerbates the symptoms of a mental health condition you’re experiencing.


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