The word 'snowflake' has become the norm to describe Generation Z. But what does it mean to you?

Posted at 10:37 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-22 01:02:39-04

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DENVER -- "Generation Snowflake." It's a label thrown around often lately, but what does it mean? 

It depends on whom you ask.

So, we go 360 on "Generation Snowflake" with multiple perspectives on this insulte du jour.

The tough-guy taunt "snowflake" may have started with the novel and film "Fight Club" ("You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake"), but in the last two years, it has become the label of choice for an entire generation.

"We love our labels. We love stereotypes," said Anna Ropp, an MSU Denver Associate Professor of Psychology. "It simplifies the world to think of large groups of people in terms of one label.”

Ropp said "The Snowflake Generation" started as a disparaging description of young people supposedly ruined by helicopter parents and focused on self-esteem. Snowflakes are seen by some as entitled, oversensitive people, defined by "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces."

So let's go 360 for more views, starting with marketing CEO Kyle Reyes, who created a "Snowflake Test" to weed out entitled applicants before hiring.

The tests included 30 questions, such as "What are your feeling about safe spaces" and "How do you feel about guns?"

"We run a business environment. We don’t run a daycare," said Reyes, with The Silent Partner Marketing. "A 'Snowflake' to me isn’t about age, it’s about entitlement," said Reyes. "It’s about someone who wants to sit around and whine and moan and complain about everything instead of actually shutting up, hustling and getting the job done.”

The term "snowflake," however has evolved in recent years to become less generational and more political.

“Essentially, it’s an ad hominem attack. It’s attacking the people, not the argument," said Ropp. “It’s an effective way to shut people down.”

On the other hand, Jimmy Sengenberger with the conservative-leaning Millennial Policy Center said "snowflakes" are the ones shutting people down, saying they are the P.C. (political correctness) reason why certain speakers are banned from college campuses, why Starbucks had to shut down for anti-bias training, and why there is an emphasis on racial diversity instead of intellectual discourse.

"It’s changing the way our society is fundamentally," said Sengenberger. "Where we are less interested in having a dialogue on the issues of the day and much more interested in shutting down speech."

But we sat down with several so-called "snowfalkes" who say the way their generation has protested and united to stand against gun violence shows just how strong they really are - attitudes they say defy the label.

"If being a compassionate, kind and empathetic person is a snowflake, then call me a snowflake," said Emmy Adams, a recent high school graduate who is already a community organizer and activist leading a Colorado movement to stop gun violence in schools.

She said a better word for being politically correct is being respectful, and she and her friends won't apologize for that.

"Our generations sees an issue and we act. We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk," said Adams.  "Thousands of snowflakes create an avalanche. And winter is coming."