Lobbed first in derision of a figure of queer hyperbole — the hypersensitive (endlessly wounded) and thus hyperdefensive (humorless, policing) but also hyperdramatic (complaining) claimant to a marginalized identity — “special snowflake” has curved back on its originators. On leftbook (and screenshots of e.g. the Glenn Beck fanpage) the term turns toward the critical exposure of self-absorptive white tears, of xenophobia as demand for safe space, and of racist diaperbabies “triggered” into losing their civility.

What does this insult presume? What is its force as insult? Calling someone a “special snowflake” antagonizes their presumed fragility, but why? And what does it mean to reverse the gesture?

An insufferable video on the “Millennials Question” can perhaps partially explain this. Motivational speaker / marketing consultant / would-be diagnostician Simon Sinek would characterize the snowflake as somebody who received too many participation trophies and now enjoys too much instant gratification to square their self-perceived singularity with the demands of a reality principle. Asserting singularity in this way comes to signal (affinity with) a social type (the entitled millennial) defined by petulance and inadequacy to typification.

Another video comes to mind too  —

Somebody says “go get your diapies changed.” An echolalic turkey gobble noise jumps from the young person raising two middle fingers to the older trump supporters crowding in and screaming back the gobble noise. In a longer version of the video we learn that the young person started screaming to interrupt a speaker with a microphone and then gets drowned out by people shouting “USA!” x 3. Aggressive mock applause gets mirrored back while people shout hurray and weirdly bellow “Oh yeah oh yeah.” The most legible sign says “SPEAK OPENLY    DISAGREE HONESTLY   PURSUE SOLIDARITY” and then, handwritten, simply “Trump.”  Toward the end you can see the young person kind of bobbing up and down into a mortification dance where the absurdity of the confrontation somehow redeems the shame of not knowing what you’re doing or even exactly why.  Everyone is filming everything. I wonder if this is where it became possible to use “special snowflake” to antagonize the fragility of those who feel threatened by left-liberal and radical counter-“policing.”

What is happening here? When does infantility act tactically?

Can the rhetoric of infantility (calling somebody else a baby) be thought on a continuum with infantility as reversion to prediscursive noise or the enactment of a shared shame dump where discourse must become formless (acting like a baby)?

Can “snowflake” not just reclaim but also re-weaponize (ascribed) hypersensitivity?


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