The truth is that people who use “snowflake” as an insult tend to seem pretty aggrieved themselves — hypersensitive to dissent or complication and nursing a healthy appetite for feeling oppressed. (Hence the delight people take, lately, in making “snowflake” jokes whenever figures on the right claim to have been victimized or treated poorly; when the conservative activist Cassandra Fairbanks sued a journalist who said she had made a “white power” hand symbol, citing emotional distress, one headline read “Pro-Trump Snowflake Triggered by Tweet.”)
Today’s tough-guy posturing seems rooted, paradoxically, in threat and fear: fear of defeat, fear of lost status and fear that society is growing increasingly ill suited to tough-guy posturing in the first place. The narrator of “Fight Club,” source of that “snowflake” mantra, was a delusional man coping with modernity by inventing a hypermasculine alter-ego, imagining himself as the man-cult leader Tyler Durden. But making an entire alternate masculine identity is a lot of work. It’s always much easier to just call other people wimps and snowflakes — and hope they’ll be intimidated enough to melt away.
Amanda Hess, “Ice Storm”, The New York Times Magazine (18 June 2017), 13.