Snowflakes

Today marks a year to the day since I started to the site. Thank you to all that have read and shared. It means a lot. Thank you to my friends, new and old, family, old and young. On with today’s post.

To hear some people tell it, snowflakes are ruining the planet. These young, feckless wretches are at different turns, lazy, unmotivated. over-sensitive, entitled and overly emotional. They’re worried about things that aren’t important like pronouns, the environment and equality. They’re ruining things for the rest of us by skipping school to protest and cancelling people for the things that they say and do. Can’t even have a joke anymore without the PC police ruining it. Famous snowflakes include Greta Thunberg, a student who worries about climate change (BUT HER MUM SANG ON EUROVISION TEN YEARS AGO SO WHY’S SHE COMPLAINING???) and Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, survivors of a school shooting who worry about guns in America (WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT? I HEARD THEY WERE ACTORS, SO YOU CAN’T TRUST THEM).

That last paragraph isn’t the view of a marginalised few. A prominent gambling company has an advert that is based around the idea of a normal (and we all know what normal means – Ed) man trying to deliver a motivational talk to his mixed gender football team and stumbling over his words, worrying that phrases like ‘man on’ and ‘fox in the box’ will be offensive – the voiceover says ‘it’s easy to mess things up these days’; there was a section on a podcast that I listen to that was talking about the last Game of Thrones episode. One of the podcasters said they wished the dragons had different coloured collars so the audience could better tell them apart and the other podcaster responded with an extended joke about the collars having to be in gender neutral colours so that they didn’t cause offence. Hilarious.

A national newspaper had this as their front page.

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The only analysis I’ll give of this is to quote a former colleague of mine: ‘if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’. I decided to investigate what these lazy snowflakes are doing. So I spoke with some of them. First up is Rebekah, a twenty-six year old living in London. In the last two years, Rebekah learned a new language in ten months, lived in Chile and Spain and has written a book. She is a talented gymnast and accomplished pianist.  She spoke to me about ‘Gymtherapy’ and snowflakes.

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‘I established ‘Gymtherapy’, a programme which aims to educate children about key human rights themes through the medium of movement and expression. These themes include identity, self-esteem, gender stereotypes, mindfulness and anger expression. I felt it was important to empower children with knowledge around how to maintain healthy relationships with both themselves and those around them – something which was largely absent from the national curriculum when I was growing up. For many, ‘emotional wellbeing’ and ‘choreography’ are fluffy, snowflake-like terms. Heaven forbid a hall full of school boys expressing their fears through improvisation and a box of percussion instruments. But sensitivity and gentleness, I think, are signs of strength. Relying on brute force to get your point across is a little tyrant-esque, whereas revealing your vulnerabilities takes courage.

Are we the most sensitive generation to date? Possibly. Does that make us weep over our soggy avocado toast? Perhaps. If somehow, we are more able to have meaningful interactions with each other based on openness and transparency, maybe it doesn’t matter.

I’d rather be a snowflake than have an ice heart (this wouldn’t be a millennial statement without a cliché ending).’

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Next I spoke to Osaro, the twenty-four year old president of Hull University Union (the first black female that has ever held the role), with an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science and a Masters in Cancer Imaging . She is a talented sportswoman and leader, has been a student trustee and student brand manager for Spotify, which makes no sense, since her favourite band is Muse (typical snowflake: awful taste in music – Ed).

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‘My power comes from students, the students of the university voted me in, twice…in higher education things can move slowly when you’re dealing with university procedures. In the student union things can move a bit more quickly. I was able to establish our advice centre as a third party hate crime reporting centre. Students can come in and report a hate crime.

I’ve got ten weeks left (as president) I want to look at the black attainment gap (26%. There’s more information on it here), looking at more inclusive recruitment, because things aren’t as diverse as they could be at our SU…Another thing that I will be looking into is creating more meaningful partnerships between students and staff. There’s a scheme that we just established called ‘Students as Partners’…There can be a lot of tokenistic behaviour in universities; when they want to hear from students it can often be a tick box exercise, but we want to change that.

People often describe snowflakes as young people that are too sensitive, not tough enough and not able to take any criticism. Would I describe myself as a snowflake? I don’t know. I guess the things that they say that are negative about snowflakes are things that are a part of me, so I do care about things, but it doesn’t mean I can’t take them as they come and if I care about things I want to be the person to be able to speak out on those issues. I guess that’s why I ran for a position like president of the Student Union. I saw things going on and I wanted to be that person to influence change.’

Lastly, I spoke with Aaliyah, sixteen, who works with ‘Got Your Back’ a Hull based charity. ‘Got Your Back’ is run by an Editorial Board of young volunteers aged between 13 and 19 who live, work or study in Hull. They work to support, educate and inform young people and have a visible presence in the city. Like many snowflakes, Aaliyah is hyper aware of how she, as a young person, is perceived, ‘We had a similar debate last night at a GYB meeting since we were talking about young people having a voice or not. I think we’re labelled snowflakes as a generation to devalue our opinions in a way that mocks us and our use of voice rather than listen to us. It’s a way of controlling what we do…we’re seen as “too sensitive” for wanting equality because older generations fear change…I personally have an interest in media and marketing, which is what forms the foundations of GYB. I was offered to join the new editorial board for ‘Got Your Back’ in May of 2017 and I accepted. I loved the idea that I would be able to voice my own opinion and help others.

I’m not entirely sure of what I want to do in the future, but I know that I want to explore a creative career path and try to help as many people as I can along the way.

My biggest concern right now is the environment, and how poorly humanity seems to treat it. Many people are now aware of the affects of climate change and how little time we have left before the damage is irreversible, yet they do nothing.’

Listening to these young people speak, I had a revelation. These young people, these snowflakes, ARE ruining the planet. Not because they are trying to save the environment, push for disability, racial and gender equality or speak openly about mental health. No, they are ruining the planet by changing the paradigm of normality. They don’t accept that things have to stay the same because ‘that is the way things have always been done’. Why should they? The things have always been done aren’t working for them. They aren’t overly sensitive, just sensitive. You can’t call them lazy, then criticise them for going out and doing things. The real issue, the real reason that so many (older – Ed) people are angry is because the move to equality feels like inequality for those that have benefitted from inequality. So to the Greta’s, Rebekah’s, Osaro’s, David’s, Aaliyah’s and Emma’s of the world, carry on. If being called a snowflake is the price you have to pay for changing the world, wear it as a badge of honour.

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