Voices of the Future: Owen's Snowflake criticism is out of touch
Recently, the matriarch of Channel 5’s ‘Our Yorkshire Farm’, Amanda Owen, labelled young people as ‘the snowflake generation’.
This comment was made with disdain for their parents, as she claimed that they were raising the next generation without a work ethic or the ability to look after themselves.
She is not alone in making this statement, many members of the older generation look down on Gen Zs, regarding us as snowflakes since, from their perspective, we appear to have had it pretty easy. Being a snowflake, in the traditional sense, means we are “less resilient” and “take offence” too easily. By this definition, I would be called a snowflake for being less resilient and taking offence with being harassed or objectified, since these things were commonplace for many in older generations. Anecdotally, I can recall many scenarios while working behind a bar that older generations would make racist or sexist comments in front of me, following with a gleeful smile and jeering “but I can’t say that anymore”.
While I can appreciate there is something innate in us as humans that appears to enjoy perpetuating a stereotype between ‘us’ and ‘them’, I find it very strange that our entire generation has been branded as snowflakes for calling to attention the injustices of the world. LGBTQ+ issues, racism, and sexism were all talked about when the older generations were our age; they are not new. Those who would call me a snowflake for standing up against these injustices were clearly lucky enough at my age not to have been affected by these issues. I firmly believe it is access to the internet that has expanded the knowledge and empathy of young people, as we are subject to the struggles of an entire world rather than just our own communities. Social media has given everyone with access to it a voice, allowing my generation to witness the experiences of others where Owen's generation did not.
Owen focused predominantly on our generation’s work ethic, however, saying that she raises her children ‘in preparation for the big world’. While I do not take issue with the way Owen raises her children, I would argue that she clearly does not understand the privilege she has to do so. Many families have to work day in day out to be able to afford to put food on the table, they do not own land to farm animals and grow food, and they also partly rely on the schooling system to prepare their children for the world ahead. The UK’s education system judges children not on their resilience or their ability to look after themselves, but rather on whether they perform well enough in exams to get a job and join the rat race. Rather than slating parents and young people for being ‘snowflakes’, Owen would do better to target the society that values grades and money over life skills and resilience.