The Runner Debates: “Snowflake”: Pro
Opinions / August 29, 2017
The word rightly describes a generation who cries before they are even hurt
Neil Bassan, Contributor
The advent of the word “snowflake” as an insult is essentially a way of pigeon-holing the young adults of the 2010s as spineless, coddled, and emotionally vulnerable brats. That’s right—if you tend to be indulgent in your self-pity, are happy without humility, or are severely invested in your political ideologies, congratulations! You are on track to becoming a snowflake.
Before you get excited, consider that one isn’t completely responsible for one’s snowflake-ness. Decades of sensationalist messages about trauma do not help in building psychological resilience—but they do help in solidifying the position that words can kill you, as put forward by Claire Fox in “Generation Snowflake”.
The term snowflake, which is slowly being incorporated into common parlance, is effective in categorizing not just the participation award-holders of the generation, but the cultural trend they inhabit. This trend, visible on many university campuses, is where hurt feelings and offense-taking constitute valid argumentative retorts, and where social justice is the institution’s raison d’être.
The political climate at many schools these days feels as if millennial students have found solutions to not only the social problems of today, but all the systemic injustices across time. There is a case to be made for merely maintaining our civilization instead of perfecting it, and I suspect this is a case that many snowflakes are ignorant of. As each new injustice is just as worthy as the one prior, snowflakes lack perspective, and often put forward solutions that are not proportionate to the issues at hand.
Let “snowflake” serve as a reminder to all millennial students and young adults of the 2010s: you don’t know everything. Not everything can be connected to systemic oppression, or white supremacy, in five steps or less. Academic work has a unique purpose in and of itself, and this purpose is unrelated to any political ambitions you see as noble or ignoble outside the university.
This is not to say that the snowflake agenda is meaningless or without merit. Much of social justice’s concern in being emotionally protective is fascinating as a point of academic inquiry, but not fascinating enough to have true-blue snowflakes in positions of power at institutions of higher learning.
As John Stuart Mill once put it, “He who knows only his side of the case knows little of that.” This, in effect, captures one glaring feature of being a snowflake perfectly—if you have lost your ability to doubt everything you are told, you debase and take for granted your most basic of liberties.
Using the term “snowflake” against millennials distinguishes between those who value justice over truth from those who value knowledge and the striving for truth above all else—and sometimes, the truth hurts.