Another View of Snowflakes

This is an interesting piece that perhaps provides another view of Millennials and why they are they way they are. This is an interesting take on the snowflake theory. It’s worthy of the read and thought, IMHO You read and decide.

We’re Not Snowflakes: How Millennials Approach Conflict

By Rebecca Whitworth
Over the last week, a new topic trended on my Facebook. Since it had nothing to do with the election, I was immediately interested. A study of a new male birth control drug had been discontinued after several men suffered from extreme depression; one committed suicide. The reaction from my female friends was unanimous. “Sure, we have to take birth control and suffer the side effects, but men get to quit as soon as they get uncomfortable.” This outrage led to a lot of backtracking as soon as they realized they were essentially making fun of suicide, but their reflexive outrage reminded me of another argument. A few weeks ago, there was a flare of pro-choice memes. The resounding chant was “Babies are not a punishment for sex.” I stared at that for a minute, not even sure how to react. No, they’re not a punishment, but they are the biological result. We’ve evolved for thousands of years in such a way that sex reliably produces babies.

 

It took a while, but I finally realized that my friends believe they have a right to have sex without getting pregnant. They believe that there should be a foolproof way for them to prevent having babies, free of side effects.

I was thrown for a loop. But that logic explained so much. I grew up to understand that the world was a preexisting system, full of established hierarchies and old traditions. When I look at situations, I seek patterns. In hierarchies, I look for where I fit and how I can be effective. However, this was not what I was taught in school.

In school, our heroes were Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Their faces stood ten feet tall in my middle school auditorium. These were heroes that made a stand through non-participation. Over and over, we were taught that disagreeing with something was enough to force change.

English class required us to read books that dramatized the lives of the downtrodden, the underdogs, and even the morally reprehensible. One detailed how a poor boy who had done even more poorly in school forged his high school transcript to get into college. Another detailed the final days of a murderer, who was the protagonist of the story. The worst, Perfume, told the story of a psychopath who hunted women to turn their scents into perfume. He was also the protagonist.

I say “protagonist” deliberately because these men weren’t touted as heroes outright. But between these books and the entire semester we spent on books detailing graphic deaths, the tone was uniform and clear. We were taught that survival means working outside of the system, and we were forced to stare at our own mortality. And the books told us that our lives would be even shorter if we played by the rules.

In history class, we learned about the wars. But the people we learned as heroes were those who took a pacifist stance, who simply refused to participate. We learned about desertion from the Vietnam War, but we didn’t learn that it was wrong. And we certainly covered the Vietnam protests, but never covered the discrimination and violence faced by veterans upon their return. The message was that protesters were attacked, usually for just protesting, because protest was a powerful weapon. We were taught about Rosa Parks, the Suffragettes, and more aggressive protesters such as Malcolm-X. We learned the moral way to affect change was to refuse to participate in the system. The message was that all uses of force were oppression, and that oppression was evil. Not only was boycotting moral, it was the only moral route.Outside of class, we watched movies and played games and read comics all designed to glorify the rebel and the anti-hero. It played perfectly into our teenage angst. Our heroes overthrow evil corporations. As long as they were fighting, it didn’t matter how they kept going; most action heroes are rough-around-the-edges, hard-drinking wrecks outrunning their emotions. We learned that the struggle was more important than the success—what good was a hero without a tragic back story? The ends justify the means.

 

All my favorite characters—the stoic, loyal type that was honor-bound to their cause or their chain of command—never saw the end of their movies. Sacrifices to the plot. That’s what you get for trusting the system.

Further, and even worse, we saw our heroes attack our government. Again and again, we saw the “Pocahontas” plot line—the noble savage fights off the arrogant white man. In Avatar, the film stopped trying to mask its agenda and put the evil mercenaries in American military uniforms. We saw, repeatedly, that the government had shadow programs, and all shadow programs went rogue. We were taught that government transparency was the only way to keep us safe. We were never told, though, that everything the civilians know, the enemy knows, and that some secrets are kept for a reason.

Essentially, every moment our parents weren’t around, we were taught to act out. We were taught that if we hated something enough, it would change for us. That if we disliked something, we were morally obligated to boycott it, and to be vocally angry about it. We were told that we could be anything, but that the only thing worth being was a rebel. We learned that the strong bend the world by sheer force of will.

That’s why millennials feel the rules don’t apply to us. Not because we were told we were “unique, special snowflakes.” Certainly not because we were given participation trophies—most of us saw through that, and some took it as an insult. (Really? I might disagree with her on this point) It’s because of how we see the world. Because the system is rigged and the rules are dangerous, we don’t have to accept them.

If my peers were taught like I was, it explains why they request “safe spaces” at college instead of arguing—if boycotting is our most effective tactic, the best way to win an argument is to refuse to have it. It makes sense if our work ethic suffers when we don’t agree with a new company policy, because we see participation as paramount to support. We invent new words to describe the new genders and identities we’ve decided need to exist because it is our duty to bend the world towards what we believe. When an endangered animal is shot on the other side of the world, we tweet and post and yell about it, because outrage alone can create change.

Perhaps it’s not so surprising, then, that the millennial reaction to conflict is flat rejection. It’s always worked for us before.

2 thoughts on “Another View of Snowflakes”

  1. Yes,Jim, interesting slant, if a bit defensive. I think this rationale is but one strand in a more complicated rope. Parental, teacher and mentor helicoptering has contributed to thin skinned individuals, quick to take offence and in need of third or other parties to mediate or manage situations for them. They are also more subject to herd behavior without critical thinking. This young lady has at least begun to think.

Please leave a comment on this post or on any subject; all are appreciated. Thank you and Semper Fi, Jim