“Generation Snowflake”

Sarah O’Leary discusses what it’s like to be in your early 20s in 2018, and dismisses some commonly-held perceptions.

When I decided I would write a piece on what it means to be in your twenties at this moment in time, I had planned on listing out the new breed of hardships that have been born of social media, ever more competitive job markets, the rising cost of living, and the prevailing sense of uncertainty that it seems everyone is experiencing at this age. However, when I began to explain the idea to my mother, she said “ah, about the snowflake generation”, as if this was the logical end to my sentence. I was confused – I had never heard this term before, so I asked her what she meant by it, and received a bit of insight into our parent’s concern for us (not that this isn’t already a hot topic with one’s parents.)

As it turns out, the term “Generation Snowflake” has been on the scene for some time, I was just enjoying a blissful ignorance of it. Google even offers a definition:

Generation Snowflake is a neologistic term used to characterize the young adults of the 2010s as being more prone to taking offence and less resilient than previous generations, or as being too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own.”

This definition, plus a torrent of worrying (or should I say triggering) Sun and DailyMirror articles, allowed me to gain as much of a grasp on this view as someone from a biased perspective could have. The term ‘snowflake’ first came to be used in relation to the millennial generation by Claire Fox in her book I Find That Offensive! In her opinion, our generation have grown up feeling entitled, we can’t cope with opinions contrary to our own, and so we lash out in protest across university campuses. We’re too easily “triggered” by ‘the real world’ and therefore, succumb to a variety of mental health issues. This view, to my surprise, has been one taken by an uncomfortable amount of people, including, at least to a certain extent, my own mother.

She explained to me her worry that her generation had given rise to a generation of 20-somethings who couldn’t cope outside of the protective arms of their parents and schools. She wondered about the 25 year-olds that still lived with their parents, the proliferating cases of anxiety and depression, the general outrage. She thinks, like Fox, that is was her generation’s fault, they raised us too well.

And as concerned as the voices behind this view may be, I don’t think they have anything to be sorry for. They have not raised a generation of snowflakes who melt at the slightest issue, but a generation of people tackling issues that have always existed. The outrage and backlash against inequalities of various kinds is something that has been simmering for decades, and yes, perhaps with this generation we have reached boiling point, but I somehow doubt it begins and ends with us.

They have also raised people who are willing to talk with others about their issues. Cases of depression and anxiety have always existed, it’s just that now they have been given a name and a platform through which people can talk about their struggles. Nor have they raised a group of people unwilling to leave home, but simply people who cannot earn money (and use it) the way they once did. What little money we do earn by 25, assuming we have finally exited the intern/rookie step of the ladder, will not stretch very far in the housing market nowadays.

There are plenty of issues that plague us by the time we enter our twenties. But in my (completely unbiased) opinion, our parent’s generation needn’t worry that they have raised some ‘snowflakes.’ Just a generation of people hoping to make their mark too.