Waste of safe space: Real issues overshadowed by trivial disagreements

Gail Finch

Reliving a traumatic experience at the mention of a specific word or phrase, noise going off, or the sight of a familiar face is nothing to take lightly. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a very real concern, is taken seriously in most cases and is appropriately accommodated for serious cases via safe spaces. Safe spaces are a good idea for those who need a place to calm down from panic attacks, PTSD attacks, or harassment. However, over the past five years, there’s been the used and public opinion of safe spaces.

This controversy surrounding safe spaces is mainly an issue on college campuses, with a stereotype of it being on behalf of the liberal arts students, who seem to be expected to ask for a safe space away from ideas that “trigger” them and oppose their ideas. This trope trivializes the idea of having a safe space for people with serious conditions and is causing people to not take the idea as seriously as they should. College should be a time to challenge ideas and discuss things with people who are different than you. Don’t let it become an echo chamber where you surround yourself with only like minded people.

PTSD is a real and serious disorder that affects the lives of many people in a negative way. It affects veterans, victims of sexual assault, victims of abuse, or anyone who has faced a traumatic event and is usually triggered by something such as loud noises, a phrase, smell, or anything related to their experience. Trigger warnings and safe spaces were developed in order to help people cope with these things on a daily basis, but are now being trivialized by the drama queens of the internet who feel as though their beliefs are constantly being challenged and attacked.

Having and discovering different opinions is what the world is about. There is no clear right or wrong answer on anything, so to get emotional over someone’s opinion because it doesn’t align with yours is rather close-minded and ignorant. If you aren’t open to other opinions, how do people learn things? Progress has been made with differing opinions, with things such as the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, the women’s movement. Their opinions were different from the norm and change eventually came about when their differing opinion was listened to and considered.

Some people would probably try to correct me by saying that safe spaces provide a false sense of security for people feel threatened by society or by their peers. I sympathize with that, but my advice is to confront the issue. Your hurt feelings cannot be as bad as someone else’s mental suffering, so don’t hide from the issue. If you do, you’re letting the issue win and have power over you. If you have anxiety over the issue, talk to someone; an advisor, counselor, anyone you think might give you the best help and that would be conducive to solving the issue.

Trivializing something that helps people with severe mental issues and those fearing for their safety for real reasons is not something to take lightly. Instead of hiding from your problems and claiming that you need a safe-space from problematic ideas, think about what you’re doing. Instead of educating yourself to your full potential, you’re hindering your worldview to the few hundred followers you have on social media and not getting the full story on anything outside of your sphere. Instead of ignoring people or blocking everything off, try to see a different side and adjust your views accordingly. Open your eyes to what others see and, more importantly, why they see it that way. It’s okay to disagree with people and still be friends. In fact, it should only make you stronger if you surround yourself with people who have various views and are also capable or discussing things in a mature manner. Safe spaces are important, so don’t turn them into a joke because you can’t handle a simple disagreement.