When You Call Somebody a Snowflake

You say it like that's a bad thing.

Photo by Damian McCoig on Unsplash

We hear it on social media all the time. Stupid snowflake. Maybe you've typed it out yourself. Snowflake has become a standard insult to shut down another person's ideas. Calling someone a snowflake isn't an effective method of debate--it is after all, literally name-calling. That thing we all learn in kindergarten that's unacceptable... yet adults still manage to put into action like it's no big deal.

Any time one adult calls another person a snowflake, we all know what it means. Whatever the dubbed snowflake says going forward, you're only going to think their ideas are worthless.

They're just a snowflake. Don't pay attention to them. Snowflakes are narcissists. Easily offended. Snowflakes can't take the heat.

But that's just something you say to shut another person down. It doesn't mean it's right or true.

For one thing, let's not pretend that anyone willing to shut down a debate with name-calling cares about free speech. Shutting a person down with insults is about anything but freedom.

For another thing, I just don't believe that snowflake is the terrible put down its users think it is. The use of snowflake as an insult comes from the myth of an entitled generation that only cares about itself. The Everybody Gets a Trophy Generation.

People who throw around the word snowflake don't like the idea that everybody could be special. Maybe they don't like the idea that somebody could be special because they think that somehow takes something away from them.

Nobody's taking anything away from anybody when they say that everyone is special. And no one needs to be so offended by the thought that we are all special and unique in our own way.

This isn’t narcissism. In fact, it’s about as far away from narcissism as you can get, because when everyone is special, everybody matters. We all have something to offer the world around us. We all have something to give… to others.

I’ve been called a snowflake a lot in the past few years, and I find it ironic every time. For me, snowflakes represent the beauty of the world. The beauty and goodness we can all strive to give.

Believing in our own personal value is a pre-requisite for good mental health. No one conquers their demons by telling themselves they’re scum.

When we believe we are special and good--that everyone is special in some way--we are able to believe in our own purpose in a positive way. We want to rise to our own potential. Mister Rogers was right. You are special.

Sometimes I hear people complain that Mister Rogers' Neighborhood created a generation of losers who think they are special for doing nothing. But all I can think is that they never really watched one damn episode.

When Mister Rogers taught that everyone was special, he simultaneously taught personal responsibility. He taught that everybody makes mistakes and that we not only apologize, but we also need to ask how we can make things better.

I think what I love most about Fred Rogers' legacy is the way he advocated living with joy--and not shame. Everyone was allowed to simply try their best without ridicule. Children and adults alike were vulnerable. Feelings mattered, but they never ruled the day. Instead, he showed us how to get through our most challenging feelings in a healthy way.

Over the years, people twisted the message of being special into something selfish. Yet I've noticed that the same people calling out others as special little snowflakes are the same folks who don't want to share. They don't think everybody deserves a living wage or decent healthcare. They're so concerned with the possibility of somebody thinking they're something, that they're right there waiting to tear a stranger down.

These are the things I think about when others use snowflake like a slur. It's misplaced anger that's bad for our collective mental health. We need more people to believe that we’re all snowflakes--and that being a snowflake is not a bad thing.