Posts Tagged ‘ insults ’

In Defense of Snowflakes

Image result for snowflake
If you have spent five seconds online recently–and I would wholeheartedly recommend less–you have heard a relatively new insult being bandied about like an emotional hand-grenade: “special snowflake.”
Isn’t that just a wonderful term?  It should slide right into the fifth grade bully’s lexicon, right between “give me your lunch money” and “are you gonna cry now?”
If you don’t understand the nature of the insult…well, aren’t you a special snowflake?  Your life has been so easy, the insulated bubble you inhabit so perfectly filled with your own self-delusion, that you haven’t even had the wherewithal to keep track of real insults out here in the real world.  See how it works?  A “snowflake,” apparently, is someone who thinks they are special.  That the normal rules of the big, bad world (might makes right, an eye for an eye, do it to them before they do it to you, etc.) shouldn’t apply to them.  Snowflakes are fragile, weepy, spoiled, child-like, ignorant, navel-gazing, sniveling, sore losers who are overdue for real life to kick them one in the teeth.  Snowflakes are the kids who got a participation trophy, the dreamers, the losers, the “save the whales,” “make love, not war” weirdos, the slackers, the ones who lacked the courage to take what was theirs.
Like most broad generalizations hurled at people who don’t agree with you, it’s full of crap.
Don’t worry, I am not going to lay out my point by point defense of snowflakes.  If you are someone out there in the cyber cesspool throwing this term around, none of my pontifications are liable to shake your unshakable belief in your own almighty rightness.  That’s fine.  Well, no it’s not fine, in fact it’s fairly horrifying, but my point is I’m not going to try to change your made-up mind.  What I would like to do is look a little more closely at what is lurking behind the snowflake rhetoric.
My first question is this: if you had kids (as many people do), what did you tell them when they were growing up?  That they weren’t special?  Did you tell them they could become whatever they wanted if they worked hard enough, or did you tell them to have realistic expectations about the limits of their talents?  Did you encourage them to dream, or did you tell them dreaming was for the weak?  Honestly, I’m asking.  Because when you call someone a “special snowflake” for believing that a better world than the one we live in is at least possible, you are espousing an incredibly nihilistic, pessimistic point of view.  Of course no one likes to have smoke blown up their ass–I mean, if your kid is 5′ 3″ and can’t jump maybe he or she shouldn’t be encouraged to follow their dreams of NBA stardom–but are hopes for the future really that delusional?  I’m assuming (though maybe I shouldn’t) that notions like equality, justice, fairness, freedom–you know, the notions this country were founded upon–are equally important across political and demographic lines.  If that is so, isn’t calling someone a “special snowflake” while actually intimating that they are NOT special, NOT unique, NOT deserving a voice, about as un-American a thing as you can possibly say?
More to the point: is your motivation just to get people to shut up?  If it is, you can just be honest about it.  Because the actual, realistic outcome of calling someone a snowflake is to immediately end all further rational discussion.  You’ve swung your arms and drawn a big black “X” over the recipient’s mouth.  You’ve made them a cliche.  And I know it makes it easier for you to believe what you believe when you are able to pigeonhole anyone who doesn’t agree with you as weaker, more precious, more fragile, more out-of-touch with reality.  It feels good, I guess, to lash out and release your pent up anger.  OK, mission accomplished, you shut up your “opponent” and ended the debate.  But you didn’t win the argument.  What you did was bully someone.  And let’s not mince words–that was your intention.  Silencing.

It won’t work.  As the venerable Dr. King once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  Pessimism is easy.  It’s easy to say the world is hard and cold and always will be.  That progress is impossible.  Optimism is harder, because optimism means seeing possibilities even in the middle of the darkness.  And being an optimist also leaves you open to all sorts of second-guessing from the sidelines.  You might even be called a snowflake.   But as my friend Lisa recently said, “Go ahead and call me a snowflake.  Enough of those snowflakes get together, that shit becomes a blizzard!”

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