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Generation Snowflake

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Generation Snowflake, or Snowflake Generation, is a term referring to the young adults of the
2010s, who are perceived as more prone to taking offense and less resilient than previous
generations. The LA Times and The Guardian considers the term to be associated with and
used by the alt-right.[1][2] Collins Dictionary describes the term as informal and derogatory and
it is often associated with criticism of safe spaces and trigger warnings in academic
settings.[3][4][5][6][7] The term has also been used to refer to Millennials.[4][5][8][9] Some sources
attribute the characteristics ascribed to Generation Snowflake to parenting methods,
particularly those that focus on boosting self-esteem.[7][5]

 1 Background
 2 Usage
 3 See also
 4 References
 5 Further reading

The term originated in the United States,[9] a reference to parents reportedly raising their
children as "special" and "precious" snowflakes.[10][9][11] Rebecca Nicholson, writing for The
Guardian writes "a much-memed line from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club expresses a very
early version of the sentiment" with the line “You are not special. You are not a beautiful and
unique snowflake.”[12]
In 2015, Claire Fox, founder of the libertarian think tank the Institute of Ideas, used the term in
her book I Find That Offensive, in reference to a confrontation between university students
shown on a viral video and Yale faculty head, Nicholas Christakis.[13][7] The confrontation
arose after Christakis' wife, Erika Christakis, a lecturer at the university, had suggested
students should "relax a bit rather than labeling fancy dress Halloween costumes as culturally
insensitive".[13] Fox described the video showing the students' reaction as a "screaming,
almost hysterical mob of students".[13] Fox said the backlash to the viral video led to the
disparaging moniker "generation snowflake" for the students.[13]

The term "snowflake generation" was one of Collins Dictionary's 2016 words of the year, with
Collins defining the term as: "the young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and
more prone to taking offence than previous generations".[14][3][15]

According to Claire Fox, members of Generation Snowflake "are genuinely distressed by
ideas that run contrary to their worldview"; they are more likely than previous generations of
students to report that they have mental health problems.[7] Northern Irish journalist Fionola
Meredith noted a 2016 UK Higher Education Policy Institute survey of university students
which found that 76% of students supported the NUS no platform policy and 48% of students
think universities should be safe spaces where debate takes place within specific
guidelines.[6][16] Fox and journalist Bryony Gordon described these traits as being coupled
with a strong sense of entitlement.[5][7]

In 2016 some law professors at the University of Oxford began using trigger warnings, with
the purpose of alerting students of potentially distressing subject matter. This drew criticism
from Fox and GQ writer, Eleanor Halls, who related the phenomenon to Generation Snowflake,
and questioned how well law students educated with trigger warnings would function as
lawyers.[4][17] Law lecturer Laura Hoyano also criticized the use of trigger warnings. A
spokesperson for the university said that Oxford had not adopted a formal policy on trigger
warnings, leaving their use to the discretion of individual lecturers.[18] Law student Giorgia
Litwin defended the use of trigger warnings, saying "The introduction of a discretionary
trigger warning is not going to cause every law student to drop sticks and walk out of a

In her syndicated column, conservative American pundit Michelle Malkin criticized the
provision of the Affordable Care Act which requires employer-based health coverage to
extend to adult children up to 26 years of age, describing it as the "slacker mandate" and
calling these young adults "precious snowflakes". Malkim argues the provision has "cultural
consequences" in that it "reduces the incentives for 20-somethings to grow up and seek
independent lives and livelihoods".[20][21]

Fox argues that Generation Snowflake was created by over-protecting people when they were
children and she argued the emphasis on self-esteem in childhood resulted in adults
"tiptoeing around children's sensitivities" to avoid "damaging their wellbeing".[7] In the UK,
Tom Bennett was recruited by the government to address behaviour in schools. [22] He
commented that Generation Snowflake children at school can be over-protected, leading to
problems when they progress to university and are confronted with "the harsher realities of
life".[22] Bennett argues being sheltered from conflict as children can lead to university
students who react with intolerance towards people and things that they believe may offend
someone or toward people who have differing political opinions, leading to a phenomenon
called "no-platforming", where speakers on controversial topics such as abortion or atheism
are prohibited from speaking on a university campus.[22]

The negative connotations of the term Generation Snowflake have been criticized for having
been applied too widely: Bennett also commented: "It's true that, for some of these children,
losing fast wi-fi is a crisis and being offended on the internet is a disaster.... But then I
remember the other ones, and I reckon they all balance each other out."[23]

Jessica Roy, writing for the Los Angeles Times, says the "alt-right" describes those protesting
Donald Trump as "snowflakes", using the term as a pejorative.[24] Richard Brooks wrote in The
Daily Telegraph that "students have always been instrumental in turning the tide of public
opinion",[25] and Mark Kingwell, philosophy professor at University of Toronto has objected to
the use of the term to characterize political protesting as "whining", in response to protests by
Millennials following Donald Trump's election as president of the United States.[8]

Serena Smith, writing for The Tab says the term "Generation Snowflake" shows "Millennials
can never win" because they are either stereotyped as politically disengaged, or they are
called "snowflakes" when they do engage politically. Smith also states: "most, if not all, of
these comments on 'special snowflakes' originate from the baby boomer generation – i.e. the
generation that kicked up the biggest fuss of the 20th century: the 1960s. A generation that led
a sexual and cultural revolution, now telling us that we’re whining for trying to make our
voices heard? It seems slightly hypocritical."[26]

Generation Snowflake characteristics have been discussed in relation to the skills required by
entrepreneurs, with the suggestion that early risk-taking may be linked to later enterprise and

In December 2016, the term was referenced in the ABC sitcom Last Man Standing, in an
episode titled Precious Snowflake about microaggressions and politically correct speech
restrictions on a university campus.[28]

See also
 Generation gap
 The Great Indoors


"Alt-Right Terminology". LA Times. Retrieved 18 December 2016.

Nicholson, Rebecca (28 November 2016). "'Poor little snowflake' – the defining insult of
2016". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
"Definition of snowflake generation". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 18 November
Halls, Eleanor (12 May 2016). "Millennials. Stop being offended by, like, literally
everything". GQ. New York. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
Gordon, Bryony (8 April 2016). "I feel sorry for the poor ickle millennials". The Daily
Telegraph. London. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
Meredith, Fionola (27 May 2016). "Precious little snowflakes we call students are taught
to be weaklings from a very early age". Belfast Telegraph. Belfast. Retrieved 18 November
Fox, Claire (4 June 2016). "Generation Snowflake: how we train our kids to be censorious
cry-babies". The Spectator. London. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
Kingwell, Mark (17 November 2016). "Generation Snowflake? Not the millennials I know".
The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
Rumbelow, Helen (9 November 2016). "Generation snowflake: Why millenials are mocked
for being too delicate". The Australian. Surry Hills. Retrieved 15 November 2016. (subscription
required (help)).
North, Anna (25 July 2014). "Are Trophies Really So Bad?". The New York Times. New
York. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
Rumbelow, Helen (8 November 2016). "Welcome to the sensitive Snowflake Generation:
They're mocked as too delicate, but are they just misunderstood?". The Times. London.
Retrieved 18 November 2016. (subscription required (help)).
Nicholson, Rebecca (28 November 2016). "'Poor little snowflake' – the defining insult of
2016". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
Fox, Claire (2016). 'I Find That Offensive!'. London: Biteback Publishing. ISBN 978-1-849-
"Top 10 Collins Words of the Year 2016". Collins English Dictionary. 3 November 2016.
Retrieved 18 November 2016.
"Do You Know What Jomo Is?". BBC News. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November
Hillman, Nick (22 May 2016). "Keeping Schtum?: What students think of free speech
Wave 2 of the HEPI / YouthSight Monitor". Higher Education Policy Institute. Retrieved 18
December 2016.
Fox, Claire (11 May 2016). "The fear of giving offence is killing democracy and stifles
truth". Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
Ali, Aftab (10 May 2016). "Oxford University law students being issued with 'trigger
warnings' before lectures". Independent. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
Litwin, Giorgia (9 May 2016). "Using trigger warnings in law lectures doesn't make us
'delicate'". The Tab. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
Malkin, Michelle (16 November 2016). "The Slacker Mandate and the Safety Pin
Generation". Townhall. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
Malkin, Michelle (18 November 2016). "Symbols of a Snowflake Generation". The
Winchester Star. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
Espinoza, Javier (19 February 2016). "Expose children to extremist views early on to
prepare them for university, says expert". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18
November 2016.
Bennett, Tom (20 November 2015). "For every flaky child we have one with real guts".
TES. London. Retrieved 18 November 2016. (subscription required (help)).
Jessica Roy, 'Cuck,' 'snowflake,' 'masculinist': A guide to the language of the 'alt-right',
November 16, 2016
Brooks, Richard (14 November 2016). "In defence of generation snowflake- everyone's
favourite punching bag". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
Smith, Serena (9 December 2016). "Am I a special snowflake, or do I just have
opinions?". The Tab. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
Brazier, Colin (25 July 2016). "The economic risks of raising Generation Snowflake".
London: CapX. Retrieved 18 November 2016.

28. "S6 E09 Precious Snowflakes". ABC. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December
Further reading
 "Generation Screwed or Generation Snowflake? Britain's young are doing better than
many think". The Economist. London. 19 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.