Is the snowflake generation cut out for event management?

Some people refer to them as Generation Y, others as the millennials but the favourite title for today’s young folk is “Snowflake Generation”, a bunch of self-righteous prima donnas.

Where would the event industry be had it not been for the pioneering spirit of past event managers who donned pith helmet and safari suit and conquered the world with nothing more than a loud voice. Is the “Snowflake Generation” cut out for a career in event management.

For those who have somehow missed this, a “snowflake” is a young person who is perceived to be too sensitive, fragile, thin skinned, easily offended and weak. To give the Collins Dictionary definition, “Someone who believes they are as unique and special as a snowflake; someone hypersensitive to insult or offense, especially a young person with politically correct sensibilities.”

Not content with insulting them individually there is now the expression “Generation Snowflake” to tar everyone born in the Nineties with the same brush. Quite when “sensitive” became a dirty word, or how an entire generation can be too sensitive I’m not quite sure.

Yet it is undeniable that today’s generation are more sensitive. Why?

We have technology to thank. Having instant access to millions of different viewpoints at once has changed everything. Blogs opened eyes to experiences outside the norm, YouTube videos allow access to the lives of strangers, and tweets flood narrow worlds with opinions. The internet has allowed ideas and mainstream disdain of them to become pervasive.

Of course, those non-millennials who criticise millennials for things they were just as guilty of when they were young are also to blame.  Being young and thinking the world revolves around you is not a particularly new thing – in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the whole point of being 21.

If today’s Snowflakes believe that hearing a dissenting opinion can kill them, it’s because we taught them to think like that. ‘What is wrong with these thin-skinned little emperors?’ we cry. But while we can harrumph and sneer at Generation Snowflake’s antics, we miss a crucial point: we created them.

Historically, people entering the event industry might have been risk-takers and adventure-seekers, but today’s entrants perceive the world as an endlessly scary place. Reared on a diet of disaster hyperbole, it’s no wonder people are becoming scared of their own shadows. When the Snowflake generation gets insulted, are they going to think, ‘No big deal; it’s only words’? No. They are going to think, ‘Oh, no, I’m being insulted! Words can kill me!’

Today’s society goes to ludicrous lengths to eliminate all risk from everyday life. Inevitably this narrows horizons and teaches us to be less daring. Overprotection just loads up the emotional angst and ill-equips individuals to deal with the basic challenges of adult life, never mind the challenges of running an event overseas. Hypersensitivity is often combined with an almost belligerent sense of entitlement. ‘Validate our subjective, wounded feelings, or else,’ seems to be the cry.

Those who’ve been involved with the event industry for some time will have their own experience of being abused by exhibitors, visitors or colleagues, “microaggressions” the snowflake generation would call them. But, in the main, we don’t equate abusive words with physical violence, we don’t get overanxious and easily offended, we aren’t censoriously thin skinned nor do we retreat to our “safe space”.

But are we doing a disservice to the snowflake generation?

It is, of course, the eternal right of the those in event management to be dismissive of the young guns snipping at their heels. And yes, the Snowflake Generation are a bunch of self-righteous prima donnas, but, by all accounts, Snowflakes are generally well behaved. They don’t drink as much as previous generations. They have an over keen sense of what is right and wrong. If getting a bit upset about criticism is the worst attribute the Snowflake Generation can display, then I reckon our future of the event business is in pretty good hands.

Is there a cure for “Generation Snowflake”? What do we do about them?

Absolutely nothing. It really doesn’t matter. Snowflakes may be annoying, but all of us were (or may even still be) once. Since being a Snowflake occurs due to a lack of world view, people will inherently learn that they are not so special simply by talking to other people and to that end we should engage with them. 

Criticizing a Snowflake does nothing but attack the self-esteem and growth of someone going through a normal stage of psychosocial development. Eventually the phase will end. They will coolly think themselves so smart for figuring this out all on their own, but like any other snowflake, they will eventually defrost.

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