A new survey reveals that young people believe being called a “snowflake” could be damaging to their mental health.
A new survey by insurance firm Aviva found that 72 percent of 16 to 24-year-olds believe the term “snowflake” is unfairly applied to millennials. 74 percent of respondents took it a step farther, arguing that they believe the use of the label could have a negative effect on young people’s mental health.
The study was born out of interest in the term “snowflake generation” which was originally used to describe young people who thought they were unique or special. Some suggest it was popularized by a line in the 1996 novel Fight Club and its 1999 film adaptation: “you are not special, you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.” The word’s meaning eventually evolved to mean “overly-sensitive.” It is often used to describe college students who claim that they are offended by controversial or even mundane ideas.
Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club, has embraced the rise in popularity of the term. “There is a kind of new Victorianism,” he said. “Every generation gets offended by different things but my friends who teach in high school tell me that their students are very easily offended.”
Dr. Doug Wright argues that because young people are more likely to experience mental health issues than older generations, they are especially susceptible to damage as a result of usage of the “snowflake” label. “Our findings suggest that young adults are more likely to be experiencing mental health problems, so using a phrase which criticizes this age group could add to this issue,” he said. “Any term used disparagingly to a segment of the population is inherently negative.”
“While young adults in particular appear to take offence to the ‘snowflake’ label, the majority of adults agree that the term is unfair and unhelpful, so it’s important that people consider how such labels are used, and the cumulative effect they could have on their recipients,” he finished.