Am I a special snowflake, or do I just have opinions?

Apologies for being politically engaged

Millenials can never win. We’re either glued to our phones, grossly ignorant of “the real world”, or spoiled brats so used to being coiled up in bubblewrap that we can’t cope whenever the tide of opinion goes against our apparently liberal values. We’re somehow perceived as both politically disengaged and yet too ready to speak up about issues close to our hearts.

When it comes to “special snowflake syndrome” – a term largely bandied about by right-wing baby boomer journalists to derogatorily describe anyone who is prone to getting offended or eager to shield themselves from distressing or challenging topics of discussion – I’d say I’m largely on the side of those who disagree with safe spaces and trigger warnings. The world doesn’t come with trigger warnings; academic debate can’t really flourish with limitations on freedom of speech, however slight. Basically, yeah, we can’t be wrapped in cotton wool all the time. Some people do need to learn to cope with the harsh realities of the world.

Even when people say they’re “offended”, it’s tempting to say “so what?”. Chinua Achebe was hugely offended by Heart of Darkness – so he wrote “An Image of Africa and “Things Fall Apart”. He didn’t sit there plotting a worldwide book-burning of the work. If you’re offended by something, engage with it – besides, where’s the fun in only ever talking about stuff that pleases you?

But why, whenever a Millennial speaks out against literally anything, are they dubbed a “special snowflake”? We know full well the world is full of racism, sexism, homophobia – the list goes on – but why are we getting branded as a generation that “can’t cope with the world” for speaking out about it? Are we meant to just sit down and take it? Are we meant to be content with the injustice and inequality in this world, and just accept “that’s the way things are”?

The worst thing is, 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.

Maybe I’m hypocritical for writing this piece, which is just the type of thing a “special snowflake” would write. But if that’s the case, then maybe I am one, and I’m proud. If caring about politics, having opinions, and generally being aware of what is going on in the world is the criteria, then I am most definitely a so-called “special snowflake”, and I’ll continue to engage with issues that I’m passionate about – and I don’t care if you call it “whining”. I’m certain Generation Snowflake – a generation of passionate, engaged young people – will do some good for the world in a few years’ time.