Seldom do I shy away from debate — because as my grandmother avidly preaches, “All you’ve got are your convictions.” So, I like to think that’s the notion that prompts my back-and-forth debauchery, or maybe I just revel in the discourse of it all. Either way, it seems my more progressive arguments are too casually shot down with what’s possibly the most illogical, conservative dagger of all: “You’re a special snowflake, aren’t you?”
These sort of personal descriptors — which drag elevated, thoughtful dialogue into the depths of self-focused, surface jabs — are just about the most enraging conversational obstructions.
When I discuss social issues, I’m usually not talking about myself. Women’s rights, I’m speaking in support of millions affected —all within a group I’m, in fact, not a part of. As a white male, race relations leave me seemingly unaffected — still, though, I speak up for those often shackled by the uncontrollable.
The list of causes goes on and on with some issues holding personal gravity and, others, without grips on my own quality of life. And, still, in my motions to be heard, both I — and many other liberally aligned — are deemed over-emotional, lukewarm and, most comically, without definitive morals.
It’s assumed that Millennials (at large) are being “woosified,” a horribly childish and made-up verb that gets used on Fox News more often than actual facts. But, as I see it, we (18 to 30-somethings) are living in a digital age — one where a news feed is the hub of both must-try mac and cheese recipes and the organization of 100,000-person political marches. In one shared space, the ALS ice bucket challenge is forcing thousands to hear of a disease often ignored; Facebook videos direct us to TEDTalks on LGBTQ+ incentives and our president is speaking directly to us. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, they all entertain and inform — but we never seem to admit their educational benefits.
Information is ubiquitous, but there’s a beauty to that. Sure, our attention spans are shrinking because, let’s be honest, answering a question is only limited by typing aptitude — but that means we live in a world of far fewer wonders. This lack of wonders adds to understanding others.
Nobody is truly raised in isolation with an iPhone in their jean pocket. Twitter exposes us to universal, unfiltered concepts and ideas. Instagram connects us to millions of differently tinted faces with stories of their own. Facebook provides a place to share our thoughts in the form of videos, photos and insights that have touched us. Of course, a well-rounded understanding of reality isn’t limited to a device, but a technology that enhances what we know to be true — or shows us what our geographical standings may otherwise keep in the shade.
And, so, I’d argue we — those liberal-leaning Millennials — are, in fact, not over-sensitive snowflakes. We’re woke. We see things. We hear things. We think about things. And, often, it’s not even a conscious process. These digital applications provide a platform for storytelling, so that we no longer need to form a friendship to know of personal hardships, experiences and outlooks — the stories are there, and all we’re accountable for is digesting them.
So, as it turns out, “snowflake” is actually misunderstood by the Tomi Lahrens of the world. A “snowflake” is more often a well-informed Millennial, equipped with a device that acts much like a doorway to empathetic thinking.
– Liam McGurl