If you lean toward the liberal politically, you've probably been called a "snowflake" at least once, and probably disparagingly. If you believe in equality and social justice, you've probably been called a "snowflake." If you've ever participated in a march or rally, you've probably been called a "snowflake." So how do you respond when someone calls you a "snowflake?" The most obvious answer here is any way you see fit. But if you're tired of having this particular pejorative lobbed in your direction and want some advice on how to react, it's time to explore your options.
As a liberal, progressive feminist born, raised, and currently living in the South, being called a "snowflake" has become a strangely familiar part of my everyday life. It's not that there aren't others who share my viewpoints in this corner of the world; it's just that, in this region at least, we are outnumbered by conservatives. Staunch Republicans. Hillary haters. Trumpeteers. And many of those people perceive the rest of us as being overly sensitive because we dare to speak out in defense of the marginalized, the subjugated, and the unfairly perpetrated. We apparently care too much — and that's somehow seen as a bad thing.
So the next time someone dubs you a "snowflake" with the intention of insulting you, try one of these responses to shut down their nonsensical narrative.
1. Say, "Why, Yes, I Am Beautiful and Unique."
We'll dive more into the history of the label "snowflake" in just a minute, but let's start with a common example: The 1999 cult classic film Fight Club and the 1996 novel on which it was based. In it, the character Tyler Durden says to the unnamed narrator, "You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We're all part of the same compost heap. We're all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world." But no matter how much haters want to imbue the word with Durdren's cynicism, the reality remains the same — snowflakes are beautiful and unique. It is a term that, despite any nefarious efforts, still manages to evoke beauty. To me, being called a snowflake is tantamount to being told I'm an awe-inspiring human being.
2. Express Gratitude
Along those same lines, a simple thank you might totally throw off the person who intended to use this term as an insult for you. When you thank you, you take the power of the word away from them. If we're really being honest, I've never understood why someone decided to vilify people for being empathetic. Isn't caring about others a good thing? Isn't it important, as people, to grow and evolve enough to see the scope of the world outside of yourself? If there weren't people in the world who cared about others, the world would be a much worse place. Maybe the "snowflakes" have to care extra to make up for the lack of empathy embraced by those choosing to use "snowflakes" as an insult.
3. Explain the (Awful) Irony of the Term
According to ThinkProgress, Emily Brewster, a lexicographer and associate editor at Merriam-Webster, found that originally, "A snowflake was a person who was opposed to the abolition of slavery. They were called snowflakes because it said they value white people over black people." Since the term is now being used largely by conservatives, zealous Republicans, and the "alt-right" (read: racists), it's ironic they have re-purposed the term into a pejorative intended to smear liberals, Democrats, social activists and other notable individuals of society who aim to end racism.
4. Explain the Potentially Horrific Inference
There's a rumor going around that is persistent and horrific in equal measure which claims the term "snowflake" dates back to World War II Germany, where Nazi soldiers used it to refer to the remains of people incinerated in concentration camps. Earlier this year, Snopes debunked this theory based on lack of concrete data. However, if there's even a remote possibility this is true and someone still doesn't find it to be a revolting slur, it says a lot about that person. It's like a litmus test for human decency.
5. Tell Them How Unoriginal They Are
I mean, right? Calling liberals and Millennials snowflakes has become so ubiquitous by the far right that it was named one of Collins English Dictionary's words of the year. It's the go-to pejorative for any person who dares to care about, express their righteous indignation over, or fight social injustice. Since the origins of the word are murky at best, perhaps it would be best to find a new word. Or, novel idea, maybe just stop being mean altogether. Kindness matters.
6. Ask Them What They Mean By It
I find that one of the best ways to counter any argument is to ask the other party what they mean by their accusation/insult/etc. As a society, we've become so used to re-verbalizing what has been packaged up and presented to us by the media (or social media, especially), that sometimes we fail to fully think about what we're saying before we say it. I'm as guilty of this as the next person and, on occasions I've been asked to elaborate, there have been moments I've realized I was clueless AF. It ain't pretty, but it's the truth. At the very least, the hope here is that by asking someone what they mean when they call you a "snowflake," you will A) help them to remember there is a human on the other end of that insult, and B) open up an intellectual, respectful dialogue. (Hopefully, at least.)
7. Shut Down the Conversation
Also an option: Just shutting the convo down. You've got far more important things on your plate — like helping fight for all the causes that got you to this point in the first place — than talking in circles with someone who would insult you for being a person you're actually quite proud of. Give 'em the brush off, and keep on caring. The world needs so much more of that, not less. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.