What does ‘snowflake’ mean and who are ‘generation snowflake’?
IF you keep hearing the word “snowflake” being used to describe groups of outraged Twitter users or protesters, you are not alone.
But if all this talk is a little bit confusing, here’s everything you need to know about the strange term – including where it came from and who it often refers to.
What does ‘snowflake’ mean?
Other than frozen rain, a “snowflake” is a term used to describe an overly sensitive person who thinks the world revolves around them.
Snowflakes gasp in horror when they hear an opinion they don’t like, and believe they have a right to be protected from anything unpalatable.
Today’s generation of sensitive uni students are often labelled snowflakes because they receive “trigger warnings” on books and lectures that might contain upsetting subjects.
Snowflake youngsters were horrified at un-PC jokes in the 90s sitcom Friends, which they saw for the first time when it was released on Netflix. The term was also used when people began complaining about old James Bond films starring Sean Connery.
The name comes from the phrase “special snowflake”, meaning somebody who is self-obsessed and fragile, easily offended, or unable to deal with opposing opinions.
It became popular in 2016 when some older generations scoffed at young people’s “hysterical” reaction to the EU referendum result.
What are the origins of the term snowflake?
The word has become so popular it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in January 2018.
The experts say snowflake is “now used as an insult to describe someone who is ‘overly sensitive or as feeling entitled to special treatment or consideration’.
“The word in fact once had positive connotations and was used to describe children with a unique personality and potential.”
“Snowflake” first became popular as an insult in the US after the release of the 1996 Brad Pitt film Fight Club.
One of the prominent lines, “You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake,” clearly struck a chord and the phrase took off.
Chuck Palahniuk, who wrote the cult book the film was based on, has claimed he invented the term.
The author told the Evening Standard it “does come from Fight Club”, adding it resonates, even more, two decades on.
He said: “There is a kind of new Victorianism.
“Every generation gets offended by different things but my friends who teach in high school tell me that their students are very easily offended.”
America’s Miriam-Webster dictionary reckons snowflake has been used as an insult for nearly 150 years, but with a different meaning.
It says: “In the 1970s snowflake was a disparaging term for a white man or for a black man who was seen as acting white. It was also used as a slang term for cocaine.
“But before either of those, it was used for a time with a very particular political meaning. In Missouri in the early 1860s, a snowflake was a person who was opposed to the abolition of slavery — the implication of the name being that such people valued white people over black people.
“The snowflakes hoped slavery would survive the country’s civil war, and were contrasted with two other groups.”
Meanwhile, the use of “Generation Snowflake” is often traced back to Claire Fox and her book, I Find That Offensive.
Who is part of Generation Snowflake?
Generation Snowflake is a put-down used to describe the current generation of sensitive millennials.
Collins dictionary describes Generation Snowflake as: “The generation of people who became adults in the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offense than previous generations.”
Aged in their late teens and early twenties, this generation mostly embraced their snowflake ways while they were at university.
Today, many of these unis are hostile to free speech and determined to shield students from any ideas they don’t like.
Students unions demand “safe spaces” – areas where people cannot disagree with or challenge your ideas.
Meanwhile, other ways Generation Snowflake is leaving its mark on the world is by introducing “trigger warnings” and “no-platforming” speakers whose opinions they may not agree with.
One students’ union conference banned clapping at meeting in case it caused “trauma”, asking people to wave silent “jazz hands” instead.
Last year we told how a student in Salford called in sick and spent the whole day crying at the result of the US election.
The academic Claire Fox, head of the Institute of Ideas think tank, has written that this generation has an “almost belligerent sense of entitlement.”
She said: “They assume their emotional suffering takes precedence. Express a view they disagree with and you must immediately recant and apologize.”
Once at a debate, she suggested rape wasn’t necessarily the worst thing a woman could experience, and many of the audience broke down in tears and began hugging each other.
She said: “Their reaction shocked me. It brought home the contrast to previous generations of young people, who would have relished the chance to argue back.”
Source: the sun
The Mazatlan Post