Wednesday, May 22Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Are we really Snowflakes?

Let me be clear: I thoroughly dislike the term ‘snowflake’. Not because it offends me, far from it. I think many people deserve to be called snowflakes for being unnecessarily sensitive, too eager to be offended, and prone to emotional and/or dramatic outbursts (in one form or another). I dislike the term ‘snowflake’, for the same reason I dislike the term ‘lazy millennial’ – it’s a little bit too inclusive.

You might ask, how can something be too inclusive? What I mean is, every 16-24 year old, no matter who they are, has suddenly and unfairly been lumped together as the ‘Snowflake Generation’. Just as all millennials, which refers to anyone born after 1982, are considered lazy and narcissistic despite their background, ambition, work ethic etc., we are all considered snowflakes. You might notice a bit of overlap there, with a sizeable chunk of the lazy millennial population also being snowflakes – it’s a double whammy.

Now naturally this isn’t the always the case. Not every millennial is lazy or narcissistic, and not every young person gets offended at the drop of hat, or has mental breakdowns every 5 minutes. In reality, some of the problems we face are just as real as those our parents had to deal. Stress and mental illness affects our generation far more than people think – with 85% experiencing anxiety and stress at least some of the time. We are, essentially, the most stressed generation. Many of us aren’t getting enough sleep, aren’t eating right, and generally don’t relax enough. We also have issues which expand into the wider world, such as the difficulty of finding a job, buying a house and, on a much larger scale, worrying about our environmental impact – after all, we’ll be the ones living in the world of tomorrow. This is obviously only a very small sample of the problems we face, but they are all quite real.

However, some stereotypes exist for a reason. I recently watched a small clip from ‘The Mash Report’ – a satirical news show which goes over current news and world issues. The clip I watched talks in great length about the Snowflake Generation. In it, the presenter/comedian attempts to defend the Snowflake Generation as having perfectly legitimate grievances with the world around them, and that the term ‘snowflake’ is unfairly used as a derogatory term when in reality we are the ones who care most about the world around us. Is all that true? By and large, yes. Although, to say that older generations don’t care about the world is as unfair as saying only we do. Do we have our own issues? Yes, no denial here. However, can we realistically compare our fairly tolerant and liberal society with that of racist 1960s America, and the work of Martin Luther King Jr, or Gandhi who attempted to usurp British colonial control over India in the 1940s? I’d argue no.

That is what the show attempts to do, although it is a comedy show so maybe it shouldn’t be taken so seriously. That said, just as life imitates art, art imitates life. There are some which would argue that getting confused over which bathroom to use is as much of an issue as black people literally being treated as second class citizens – a problem which still exists in some lowly parts of the world today. The point I’m making is that every generation, whether that be snowflake, baby boomer, millennial, whatever, all had and has their issues, big and small.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. On a personal level, you may be very offended by what you see and experience in day-to-day life – and I’m not saying you shouldn’t be.

However, remember to look at things in proportion, in context, and most importantly, always remember just because you’ve been labelled part of ‘Generation Snowflake’ doesn’t mean you have to act like it.