“Generation Snowflake” what if they were right?
Yes, this piece starts with a tweet of the (in)famous Milo Yannopoulos. The article referred in this tweet got me thinking (and the fact that it was promoted by Milo and his likes certainly contributed to it).
Yes, I never hid my disagreements with a modern type of behavior from college students, fearing being exposed to challenging material and provocative ideas. Yes, I laughed and mocked the hysterical display of obviously hyperbolic personalities such as seen here
Yes, I’m what you would call a critical thinker, always was and am even more being engaged in research and knowing the subtleties and challenges of proving something to be true.
But I’m also clearly cynical, and somewhat… desensitized.
This article by Jeffrey Goldberg made it very clear.
If you read it, you will likely smile at the idiotic tweets, you will call all of this gross trolling. But you should be horrified, disgusted and angry.
Being a critical thinker tends to affect your moral compass, and push you towards an extreme relativism. After all, I’ve seen a lot, both in fiction and in real life. I’m “used to” it.
We often gloat about the “thickness of our skins”, this ability to take everything without letting the feelings overcome ourselves. This sole idea is supposed to make us feel good.
But here’s a question:
“Does it really make us happy?”
To reflect on this, I went back and thought about my own education.
If modern students are the “generation snowflake”, then I was part of what I would call the “bullied generation”.
No one, from teachers to parents, really cared about our well-being, about our will… at all. You had to do what you were told, and rebellion meant intense clashes accompanied by severe breakdowns. For sure the constant hits and recurring humiliations were building that “thick skin”. You quickly learned technics to survive the verbal abuses. Over time, you would be so used to it that it sounded normal, and only the “weaks” were seen as unable to cope! The next generations better be ready too, because this would be their turn. You even couldn’t wait, after all, you earned it!
But never would you have a room to ask:
“Am I happy?”
I succeeded very well, my life is great. But I owed it more to my own abilities than to what people put in my way. Being in a more positive environment could have likely helped me grow even more, go beyond some limits I have and decrease my natural suspicious instinct when it comes to others.
So let’s go back to this new generation so often decried.
Maybe what they want is just to stand up to this systemic bullying. Maybe they just want people to “care” about their well being. Maybe their safe spaces are just some breathing rooms for people to regroup and feel somewhat happier. Maybe the trigger warnings are just what we should all have asked for, a courtesy of knowing what’s to come, especially if potentially bridging knowledge to prior deep but still fresh trauma. Maybe crying is a natural response when told that “rape isn’t the worse…”. Maybe being a woman and being tired of sexism is just natural. Maybe stressing out the fact that most names you see as revered at your campus are from ex-slaves owners and that it makes you feel deeply uncomfortable as a black student isn’t so inconceivable.
“Maybe they just want to be happy?”
Maybe being horrified, disgusted and angry while seeing “holocaust jokes” isn’t a proof of weakness. Maybe it’s in fact a strength.
Yes, maybe, and it’s really an interrogation, a suggestion, a corner stone for an elevated debate, this “generation snowflake” is actually very strong, one that says “sorry but enough with your top-down bullshit, I exist too, too bad if that makes you uncomfortable”.
Should they get a free pass? Of course not. Should their excess be forgotten? No, they deserve attention, and censorious temptations fought by reinforcing the need for ideas to exist, even displeasing ones. But maybe could these ideas be proposed in more sensitive, more subtle way than a “deal with it life it’s hard trust me mine is”.
So, yes, maybe this is the “generation snowflake”, but let’s see if the resulting snow won’t shine brighter than the sometimes deserted grey lands offered by my generation.