Apparently the term “Snowflake” as a derogatory term was first popularized (not coined) in the movie Fight Club (1999, drawn from the 1996 novel of the same name) with the line, “You are not special, you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.”
Many embraced using the term to deride the Millennials. The presumption is that this group is made up of individuals who are too focused on their own uniqueness, are hypersensitive, and are emotionally fragile.
That may or may not be true. I have lived in the Philippines for over 14 years where those aspects of the so-called Millennial generation don’t seem to be so prevalent. I can’t really say about other places.
But as one who works in ministry, does some counseling, and spends aimless moments in social media, one thing has become pretty clear: It sure seems like everyone is a snowflake.
We actually are all unique. Uniqueness is not in and of itself a basis for special status. Our “special-ness” really comes from the fact that we are designed by God. We have in some way or another the Imago Dei. Still uniqueness is important. Decades ago I worked at a Christian Summer Camp, and the Director, in a state of pique, put up on the bulletin board, “No One is Indispensable.” Certainly true, but I told others at the time, “No One is Indispensable, but No One is Replaceable Either.” I am not always proud of my thinking that long ago, but I am still proud of that. Our uniqueness doesn’t necessarily make us indispensable, but it does make us irreplaceable… since no one is an exact substitute for anyone else.
We actually all are hyper-sensititized… but about different things. When a person uses the term “snowflake” in a derogatory manner, it may not speak to the fragility of the speaker, but it certainly points to the sensitiveness of the speaker. The people who look with derision on people concerned about the issue of gender-insensitive language, suddenly get freaked out when one questions the character of their favorite politicians, or the wisdom of a broad interpretation of the 2nd amendment. I suppose if one really wanted to demonstrate their own lack of sensitivity, they would best show it by not being sensitive to the sensitivity of others. But that brings up the question: IS IT REALLY A VIRTUE TO BE INSENSITIVE?
Fragility is actually the problem. We all are sensitive— too sensitive on some issues that frankly don’t matter all that much. We all are unique… and that is perfectly fine. But we do need to be less fragile. We need to be able to handle that others are different.
Ephesians 4:2 says “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Essentially it says that we should “graciously express love to other Christians, putting up with their own stupid and annoying words and behavior, as they put up with our own as well.” Of course, as Christians if we are to love our enemies and our neighbors as ourselves, it seems that Ephesians 4:2 may provide good wisdom for how we should treat non-Christians as well.
Like it or not, we are all snowflakes. We are each unique. We are too sensitive about things that simply don’t matter very much. Maybe we can at least learn to be considerate and resilient snowflakes.