Monday, May 15, 2017

Snowflakes Aren't New

Not related to Norway, though they still do have considerable snow up there.

There is much discussion of young people who are "snowflakes," who believe they are quite special. It's a big issue on conservative sites and bigger still at civil libertarian sites, but it's certainly not confined to those.  It irritates adults in general.  When the data comes out from one college or another that the protestors are actually children of privilege compared to other students, it just frosts people even more.

I don't know why seeing that information didn't trigger some thinking about my own experience at college and other large collections of young people.  This is exactly what a subset of rich kids have always done.  They want what they want. They are outraged over small slights.  They threaten to go to the dean, or their parents, or a lawyer if they don't get what they want.  Giving into them also isn't new.  It is stock comedy of cowardly camp directors or craven college presidents who give the little darlings everything they want and ask that the children put in a good word to their father.  It is also a stock feature of more serious plays and films, of people who cannot get justice against an offending young criminal because his father is a powerful figure, or crusading young lawyers or journalists who will stand up to the powerful.

Maybe there are more of them now, because there are more rich people.  Or because they are a larger group, they encourage each other in this pathology and it increases thereby. Perhaps too many institutions in society encourage this behavior now rather than trying to knock it out of the little monsters. Yet I am not sure of any of those explanations.  We don't have much in the way of measuring whether there were more jerks in the old days or more jerks now, and even our measurement of the responses of the supposed adults is indirect. We say "no one would have put up with this in my day," but I can remember specific instances where people did put up with it.  We can measure that there are now more administrators at colleges whose jobs are specifically tied to the monitoring of who is offended.  I suppose that's an indicator.  However, most of what we are quite sure of here may just be our impression.


jaed said...

I don't think it's rich kids. I think it's the whole middle class. (Not every child, of course, but pervading a larger set of classes.)

- Boomer parents—the parents of the Millennials—seemed much more willing to interfere with things like school discipline, grades, and so forth on behalf of their children. Getting a child declared with some sort of mild special needs in order to get more time on tests and so forth was an innovation of this parent generation, for example.

- The fashion in education during the time they were in school was very much "every child is a unique snowflake", with multiple intelligences, different learning styles, and so on.

I'm not sure the general attitude of entitlement, and the indications of BPD on the part of various example people, are related to either of these things. But I'm not sure they aren't related either.

Sam L. said...

It gets more publicity and notoriety these days.

james said...

I'd say fashion has lowered the threshold of relative wealth needed to make your kvetching heard.

Chent said...

Besides what others said, there are other developments that make this phenomenon more frequent:

- College education being more expensive gives more power to students.
- More college students.
- Less respect to authority.
- More glorification of rebellion in the culture and in the academia.
- People are more like: "I have my rights, you know!"
- Higher narcissism.
- Loss of the sense of duty and hard work "Because I'm worth it!"
- More snowflaking in the culture: "No Child Left Behind". Excuse me? There are always children left behind.
- Less contact with reality in a digital and mass media culture. Less common sense.