Why Triggering Language Matters

“Triggered” might just be the word of the year. It’s showing up in political discussions, on college campuses, in relation to gender equality, rape culture, military history, suicidal fears, domestic abuse, racial slurs, sexual abuse, and the list goes on.

Generally speaking, we read it referred to for two reasons:

  1. People defending the right to free speech without worrying about who they might “trigger”
  2. People requesting a safe space where they will experience no “triggers”

These responses seem to assume that triggers are static things that people are impacted by, or that they make up. But a trigger isn’t always a word or phrase that defies political correctness. It’s not always a joke in poor taste, or something said to shock. For content strategists working in healthcare, triggers are associations that impact patients’ ability to care for themselves. Continue Reading


Goodbye Grooveshark

Last week I went to visit my favorite music site, Grooveshark. Most people I know prefer Spotify, but I’ve never gotten the hang of it. Unfortunately, it turns out that Grooveshark has been shut down! Fortunately, they managed to do so with some really amazing content. I particularly love this line:

“…despite the best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service.”

Voila!  In one sentence they imply they did not knowingly break the law, while also providing ex-users all the information they need. If you’re looking for proof that tone of voice, word choice, and message matter, here it is. I’ll miss Grooveshark, but I love this letter. Continue Reading


Genetically Modified Language

Non GMO project verifiedJust outside Burlington, Vermont is a small grocery store called Natural Living. They make a point of carrying GMO-free foods, which are recognizable by their “Non-GMO Project” labels. Now a Trader Joe’s is opening next door, and some of the local foodies and GMO conscious folk are concerned. Although Trader Joe’s also has labeling for their products, they use the much less restrictive “GMO-free” labeling, which is defined by the FDA as any (even genetically modified) food that does not have a  ”significantly different nutritional property” from the original item. Continue Reading