The term “snowflake,” originating from the 1999 film “Fight Club,” has become a popular insult for sensitive people. In the movie, Tyler Durden says, “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”
Why are people called snowflakes? It can refer to a person that believes they are special and unique from all others, and should be treated differently because no two snowflakes are identical in nature. Additionally, they melt easily. When applying this characteristic to an individual, it implies that they are overly sensitive, and are offended at the slightest comment. Thus, the intrinsic fragility of literal snowflakes is metaphorically applied to individuals who are perceived to be overly affected by the words and actions of others. Snowflake is also used in tandem to the idea of a “safe space,” where snowflakes go to hide from the “harsh reality” of the world. There is a belief that snowflakes want participation trophies and special attention, often for medial or no accomplishments.
What is the difference between being a snowflake and being sensitive? It is true that there may be some cases where someone takes something a bit too personally. However, I am more concerned with the fact that there are individuals who enjoy casting blame upon other people and delegitimize another person’s feelings when they say something intentionally hurtful. Typically, the things said exemplify a blatant disregard for identity, culture, or historical implications and include harmful stereotypes.
Generally, the term snowflake is applied to minorities or people with left-leaning views. The term is used with the intention to make the other person appear weak, vulnerable and/or irrational. The person that says it is able to appear logical and rational while accusing the other of falling apart emotionally. Painting another as overly-sensitive becomes an implied justification for why you can say things that you likely know are offensive. It becomes an act of arrogance and ignorance. People do not call people snowflakes on accident. They know what they are saying is triggering, but they say it anyways. Derogatory comments regarding sexuality, race, gender, age, ability and religion are just a few examples. The fact remains that mutual respect is completely disregarded by people that speak in this manner. Wanting to be respected is not something that is outlandish to ask for. In fact, we all desire- and to an extent, expect- to be respected by those around us, our society and our government.
I understand and acknowledge that this snowflake label goes both ways. It is often assumed that only conservatives cast this term. However, liberals use it as well. Quite frankly, this not only exacerbates the issue, it also cements and reifies the definitions and assumptions about what a snowflake person is. I disagree with its use entirely. It does not further a conversation, nor does it add value to a debate. Fundamentally, it functions as a logical fallacy; it is ad hominem.
The term snowflake is meant to marginalize people on both ends of the spectrum, and shame them for having different thoughts, beliefs and opinions. Ironically, there may be people who think I am being a snowflake about advocating to not use the term. However, my point still stands. Regardless of who is using it, it is unproductive. We can all do better by discontinuing our use of the term.