Local News Editor and Editorial Editor
The movie Megan is Missing, directed by Michael Goi, took TikTok by storm at the end of November. Megan is Missing is a glimpse into the life of a teenage girl after her online friend, who isn’t who he claims to be, kidnaps her. The movie includes graphic imagery of rape, assault, abuse, and murder. The director stated in a video that he created Megan is Missing in order to bring awareness to the dangers of the Internet and social media. Goi apologized on TikTok to those affected by the movie and warned people of its possible negative effects. Following the growing popularity of Megan is Missing, many TikTok users began using their platforms to spread more triggering media. They flood “For You” pages with videos about real murder cases that creators often post without a sufficient trigger warning.
Much of the graphic imagery and subject matter is incredibly harmful to people who have experienced trauma, and they can even be frightening to those who haven’t. When people have a history of traumatic experience, it is extremely difficult to recover when the media constantly reminds them of that dark period in their lives. Even the slightest things may cause traumatic memories to flow back, and the recovery process can be incredibly long and difficult. Words and images can reintroduce someone to topics they would rather avoid. For example, if a person with a history of eating disorders were to see people talking about how they purge after eating, they might be tempted to relapse. It is important to be considerate of the fact that media users have not consented to see everything that pops up on their feed.
Because horror movies and sensitive topics are becoming mainstream, peers often pressure people who would rather not watch those movies or read about traumatic events into doing so. It is extremely harmful for people to feel ostracized if they are unable to stomach explicit content. In addition, creators turned to joking about Megan is Missing, most likely as a way to cope with the evocative movie. However, joking about a topic that is both very real and very frightening takes away from the seriousness of the film and of the purpose for its creation.
We understand that people want to share content they find interesting or enjoyable, but it’s necessary to be cautious when you promote media with potentially triggering subjects. Do the benefits of sharing this content outweigh the risk of causing people with trauma to relapse rather than recover? In most cases, it does not. At the very least, think before you post, and always include a trigger warning when you’re sharing about sensitive topics.