A bit more than a year ago, on April 21st, I wrote a post on “trauma dumping” originally titled “Twitch Etiquette – Don’t Trauma-Dump” which I later edited to include more resources and to put the term “trauma dumping” in quotation marks. To this day, that post is still getting a lot of views and it still feels like I didn’t express myself clearly enough, which is why I wanted to talk about the topic yet again, as well as provide some extra resources that I found in recent months on the matter. Hence, this post is an “Addendum”, essentially a continuation that is supposed to provide better insights on the topic based on personal experiences I made during the past year as well as some research I did and resources I found.
So, first, what was the intention of the original post, what was my message back then, and what exactly is “trauma-dumping”?
“Trauma-Dumping” is a term that a lot of people to describe others sharing negative experiences and potentially triggering messages out of nowhere in a chat on Twitch. I dislike the term for a plethora of reasons which is why I put it in quotation marks. My original intent with the post was to educate about the event that triggered the discussion (briefly), explain what is meant when people say that you’re not allowed to “trauma-dump” in their streams, as well as to share my opinion on the matter – that opinion being that you should always ask first if it’s okay to share something like that and inquire about the rules and whatnot.
To explain it briefly, the key issues are that it’s hard to deal with it “well” and it’s very easy to come across as dismissive, insensitive, cold, harsh, rude, etc. when you have to deal with these matters. On top of that, those messages can be potentially triggering to a lot of people. When someone mentions that they are thinking about hurting themselves, I for one feel reminded of some very traumatic experiences. Hence, a lot of people ban the excessive venting and discussion of such matters outright on their streams nowadays. At the same time, however, the term isn’t really clarified anywhere. Hardly anyone bothers to explain what “trauma dumping” is supposed to be. If you were to seek help or advice from people online, you’d get banned for it without knowing why. In my post back then I stated that it’s a matter of “consent” more than anything as well as the ability of certain streamers to actually be of help. There are only so many things you can do as a streamer.
When someone comes in and is talking about certain things, be it “venting” or “trauma dumping”, you can try to help the person but you may lose others in the process, which isn’t what you wanna do necessarily. You could go on as you did before but it then may come across as you’re invalidating or dismissing the person in question. Heck, even the question of what to do with the possibly triggering message is hard to answer for most people.
In that post I wrote, I essentially talked about my experience with the term and also mentioned how I’ve been trolled once in the past when I shared genuine concern for that chatter… and they then spouted some Anti-LGBTQIA+ bullshit, leading to them getting banned. That negative experience was one single instance of someone trolling in this manner and I doubt that it’s a common thing at all… Despite having brought that example up, my point was, that you should always take these topics seriously – but that’s not how it reads, so there’s a whole section in this post right here where I talk about that. The whole issue with the situation is, as I mentioned in the original post, too, that there are too many ways to fuck up interactions like that and not enough ways to do a good job, especially as you’re so far removed from your community when you’re live streaming a game or just having a good time with people. Do you pause what you’re doing to focus on one single person? Do you engage with them potentially triggering other people in the process? The big question is “What do you do?” and it’s a valid question.
And thanks to twitch streamer and mental health advocate KingArgaroth, I found out about TakeThis.org who released a video on this exact issue.
In this video (linked here and embedded above), the people from Take This go into detail as to what you’re supposed to do or what is one way to do it when someone brings a topic up such as self-harm or other potentially triggering subjects. There’re also resources that you can link to in a command to basically give people the option to inform themselves on the matter and essentially seek help where applicable. I’d highly recommend watching the video as it highlights what you can do really, really well, and I’d recommend creating a “!resources” command of your own if you’re a streamer or moderator in a channel. It goes a long way and you never know when it may be useful to have. The video is a great watch, explains things really well, and it’s from a relatable perspective, so I highly recommend sharing and watching it to educate yourselves and to just be prepared in case it ever happens to you that someone shares something like this.
No matter how many times someone may be “trolling”, concerns like this should always be taken seriously.
Back to my original post, I feel like my original post didn’t necessarily get the point across that it’s fine and valid to seek help online. My original point was about “consent” but it may come across completely differently in a “don’t do this or you’ll get banned” kinda way, which was not the intention behind that post. Even though I never said so, I also had the impression that my original post was kind of suggesting that people do this to troll others, solely because I mentioned one single example of someone trolling me. Maybe I’m just reading it that way because I don’t like the post and my inner critic is acting up today… but just there being the possibility that it gets read that way is already enough reason to clarify what I mean in this post here.
As I said already, you should take all instances very seriously because you don’t know people’s circumstances or situations. I just don’t know how to make that more convincing in the post there. So, when someone says that they got “weird” or “intrusive” or “bad” thoughts, I take it seriously and assure them that they’re loved and appreciated and that they can talk to me after the stream. I tend to end the stream a bit earlier than usual as well to make sure they’re okay or I reach out during breaks. In those break messages, I just make sure that they know they’re valid and that they matter. And I try to make sure that they know that there are resources in the meantime to check out. I just wanna make sure that they’re good because I’ve been there myself. I’ve had times when I needed to seek crisis intervention in the past. I had to call “a number” myself because I had nobody to talk to… and hence, I find it incredibly important to take others seriously and to listen to them. Had I not called that number back then, I wouldn’t be able to write this post right now.
Obviously, though, it’s not your job to do that. You don’t have to and frankly, you can’t possibly do that all the time. It’s frankly impossible for a single person to be there for every single person out there, which is why people shouldn’t “ban” Mental Health topics outright. Instead, streamers should make at least some effort to destigmatize the topic of Mental Health issues and therapy. It’s perfectly fine to talk to a professional or to call “that number”. It’s fine to seek for help and to talk to someone who is trained to actually help you. If streamers completely ban the matter and make people feel bad for possibly venting slightly, it ends up adding more stigma to something that is completely normal. It’s not like there are more mental health issues nowadays. Rather, it’s become somewhat normal to talk about things like depression and anxiety as well as other forms of MH problems nowadays – which is a good thing. The least you can do as a streamer is to educate yourself on possible responses to give, link to resources, or at least tell people that they’re valid and that everything will be fine. It’s the little things that matter. Another thing you can do is open up a “vent” channel (with the #nsfw tag) on your discord server where people can just get it out.
So, what is the conclusion to this post? Frankly, I’m not good with phrasing and sometimes you end up writing something and even after repeatedly reading through it, it seems fine… but then you read it again a year later and you see so many things that are wrong with it. In this past year, I had a few more experiences with people sharing that they are in a bad place while I was on stream. So, I talked to them and I messaged them and checked in on them later again and on the next day, too, to make sure they were okay. There is still not one single way that fits every situation but the video by TakeThis.org really does explain how to react in those situations to make a difference and to make those seeking help know that they are heard, valid and loved. Most of us aren’t Mental Health professionals and even if you don’t rock that “Mental Health” tag, people may share experiences where they need help. And that’s not “venting” or “trauma dumping” or even an attempt at “trolling”. That’s just people seeking help or needing to let go of it. They’re not doing it for “attention” but rather because they need someone right now and it’s important to listen to them and take them seriously.
On that note, this post has been in the drafts for quite a while. I’ll have to thank Eric for lending me a hand by reading through the post and just checking if anything sounds “bad” or whatever. Also, I wanna link to a post written by Roger from Contains Moderate Peril who just the other day wrote about “trauma dumping” and “group therapy” in MMOs – and how it doesn’t quite work out. Roger is a great person who I envy for his way with words and I really hope that I someday will become as sensitive as him when it comes to my phrasing and wording.