Beautiful ordinariness

The word snowflake has filtered down to the teens (or did they invent it?) And they write about not wanting to be snowflakes. Us millennials inspired the term and obviously terrified the rest of the population. These Z people make me excited.

It was coined in Fight Club:

“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”

Would it be a thought crime to say that it’s a good thing to come to terms with the fact that you, and everyone else, is ordinary?

As I see it, people can do things that are special, but the concept of being special is the root of millennial narcissism.

34 thoughts on “Beautiful ordinariness”

  1. I think this is a root self-perception problem you’ve touched on that has been fostered by several generations of well-meaning parenting, a philosophy that then cannot help but filter into rationalizing all kinds of pernicious social difference issues that we are all so very, very special… not least of which is empowering the most pressing problem the West faces: the atrocious rise of identity politics and the legal privilege fallout it entails, a fallout that directly undermines and decays and continues to erode our fundamental enlightenment values, not least of which is individual equality in law. This philosophy is a civilization destroyer.

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  2. I used to tell my students they “were special,” and I laid it on thick (Grandma thinks so, your teachers think so, your sports coach thinks so, etc.). When I was done I repeated the point but capped it … “You are special … just like everyone else.”

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  3. Margaret Meade said long ago, “You are unique and special just like everyone else.”

    Fight Club was tied to a kind of Nihilism that was almost a breath of fresh at the time. Every generation inherits the problems of the last generation. The generation before exaggerates it’s greatness as to not take the responsibility of it’s failures. So it’s a bit of a double fault isn’t it? Maybe even a triple, the social consensus that millennials are snowflakes, millennials naturally think they are because of inflated digital values like social media and Google repositories, and older people also think highly of themselves and could be a special kind of snowflake themselves. The wise and sometimes nostalgic grandpa snowflake. There was a book called The Culture of Narcissism it came out in the mid seventies. Hm. Just before the greedy 80’s and the 90’s recession. Feast or famine on this side.

    So. In the moment, the behavior I can agree with that younger people seem to have the answers. The overall atmosphere appears to muddy responsibility and induce blame based on age group not so much circumstances. Well. Saying you have an answer and it’s wrong is kind of, well just wrong. 🙄

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    1. Of course this age group has more people to come to their aid, instead of allowing for failures and falls and bruises; where does this radical social movement of over protection come from? Add to that not even a concept of “special”, but a terrible sense of entitlement, which clearly is the elephant in the room, without anything learned or earned.


      1. I can’t help but wonder how justified is this sense of being a snowflake in the face of this brave new world of contract work, temporary assignments, term employment, on call, casual, and so on. Why should this generation treated economically as mere cogs, responsible for funding their own worthiness as trained cogs, feel any reciprocal obligation of devotion to anyone or anything?

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      2. How interesting. I would have though that the opportunistic “contract work, temporary assignments, term employment, on call, casual” etc mimic nature a lot more than pensionable-contract steady employment type work. After all, the characters of the BNW did all have very steady jobs. Neither one is easy, of course.

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      3. Nature in focus and up close appears far more selfish and narcissistic than human individuals. But from a distance nature appears to be a balanced act within natural pressures. There is a temptation to equate this distant view with human organizations and then call the resulting wealth inequality it creates and sustains to be ‘natural’ when it is wholly manufactured. What we don’t find in nature with the close up view is the accumulation of wealth for the sake of creating inequality that we find with humans. In this sense such human organizations are quite ‘unnatural’.

        All I mean to say is when society doesn’t value the individual with a reciprocal social arrangement of giving equal value, then selfishness must naturally increase. I have found the younger generation to be far more competitive than any other and I suspect this lack of social value in the form of not providing basic needs, like food, shelter, stability, safety, family support, and healthcare and work that is valued by adequate compensation to provide these, then how can we sit back and complain that this generation is too narcissistic when that is exactly what we know best copes with overcoming the lack of basic needs?

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      4. Well. Obviously us. The older folks that had life kick our asses several times before. Somehow. We decided as a mass group that maybe we could do better for those after us. Well, we can “fix” the physical but we just expect the mental to figure it out.

        Trust me. The only entitlements come from the middle class. Lower class and those below it know exactly who and what they are. The unicorn is rare in those kids until, about high school. So maybe we should get rid of high school?

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      5. Eh, all the begging for holidays, sick leave, not going to work because “I don’t feel like it” I think clearly shows they think they deserve it, and most employers put up with it, give them raises, and elevate their status for being under achievers who know nothing.

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      6. A bit oversimplified. We are the mirror of the next generation. Looking for roots of problems or just complaining there’s weeds in our yards. It’s up to you. Either way neither you or I can fix it.

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      7. I disagree. You may be putting the exception before the rule. Digitally and socially millennials have a larger footprint than other generations but they didn’t invent narcissism. Neither do these new expressions of social media promote narcissism. If you’re already kinda feeling yourself… Haha. Let’s back up a little to World War II. After that war the American Dream emerged through the introduction of credit. While, our allies in England were still rationing food for a few decades. It’s from that point that Americans were just, a little better than everyone else. Supposedly. So two or three generations saying your poo don’t stink against the last generation? C’mon. You’re a smart guy.

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      8. I have a problem with the shopworn phrase “exception before the rule” which actually is “the exception proves the rule”, which creates a real problem of what is being understood between two who are communicating, on what is being tested, which in this case should be what you have defined as “the exception…” “to…” whatever “the rule” may be–whether that “rule” tested against “exception” is still valid or not. Here’s a great article to check out on Mental Floss:

        Narcissus and Echo is one of my favorite myths. I think the idea of “streaming” really makes it difficult to accept other theories and challenges to our way of thinking because the consumer can block out anything off the stream that doesn’t really have anything to do with him or her. Much like Narcissus staring at his own reflection. We can so easily block a user on FACEBOOK or block a blogger on WORDPRESS, that in a digital age those that have it strapped to their faces the most have very little time for forum much less challenging their way of thinking, and much less challenging their conflict resolution skills, reasoning skills, comprehension skills.

        Credit has existed farther back than WWII, in fact was instituted by the First Bank of the US, created and proposed by none other than Alexander Hamilton, though it is used quite differently, a concept that evolved out of what he had proposed–extending and expanding into the imperialist criminal that it is today, perhaps for his imperial influence, which is more of my own family qualm, being related to Aaron Burr, yet I digress.

        Oh that age ole’ concept of “The American Dream” which hinges on a false self-fulfilling prophecy “you can grow up to be what ever you want to be”, I think is at the heart of this snow-flake mentality.

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      9. I meant exception before the rule. Meaning, you are taking the small bits as the standard. That’s what I meant. Good to know, how its supposed to be used even though I think you knew what I meant which is starting to make this thing sound nonsensical.

        I think any social medium has its challenges. It’s just programming and we ask too much of it. Streaming, implies one way communication rather than community. I’ve always been a fan of Archimedes. Yelling profanity and crapping on the Republic floor. Ideally. You don’t make friends that way but at least it’s not streaming. If I agreed with you. We would’ve not had this conversation. I do agree that conversation on a digital platform is, weak. For the most part from what you listed there plus a few emojis. We can’t blame the world users either. Just. Ignorance.

        I know credit went back father but consumer credit was really pushed after WWII. As I mentioned, to push Americans at home father while other allies were rationing and living different standard. It sounds like you only read what I wrote to disapprove which although appreciative really offered no rebuttal. I’d like to continue this but we’re out in the weeds so we probably shouldn’t. I say, you win.

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      10. It did offer a rebuttal and really what you try to point out about credit and econmics is mute. Unless the concept you are trying to grapple with is austerity. Then, what you are trying to make sense of makes perfect sense. You mention weeds and they are easily cut to see clearly the horizon, but what do your weeds have to do with the conversation?

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      11. Ignorance is not to blame and seems as cliche in the debate as “exception before the rule”. No, in my example streaming is being used as a modern analogy of how the myth operates in the social networking mediums we use, which you fore-mentioned and even as an example of our conversation. The tangent of Archimedes, while fascinating doesn’t really grapple with the conversation at hand, unless to make a point about “drawing circles” which clearly relates to “weeds” and “crapping on the floor of the republic”, yet really in its Dadaism adds nothing more to this conversation. Really actually I am available to conversation. I believe it was about a “un-unique snow-flake”-the Millennial Narcissus, which I see particularly through what social behavior they accept learning from their streaming devices a similar technique of tunnel vision, and I see them in the workplace–those that would want a problem without a resolution–no conversation because conversation outside a text message is scary. Thinking that sick days, personal holidays, weekends, insurance and other benefits, and the like should be afforded without experience, without any years within whatever job they so choose–entitlement. Those that create essays with arguments which read, “I didn’t like this history book because it is long”. Those that complain about thees and thous in Dante. Those that are surrounded by support group–you name it–instead of being allowed to fall and actually learn something.

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      12. Well, if there were ever a time needed in education to incorporate the narcissistic effect you point out accompanies personal computing and social media, it’s now. I found great success always establishing a strong connection between the wisdom-of-the-elders ie thoughts of Old Dead White Men and what to many seems to be an outdated curriculum in all subjects I was teaching, with immediate relevance to the students and their personal lives. I cannot recall ever failing to produce an environment of great interest and group participation and near perfect attendance by these ‘selfish’ students at any level in any subject that they realized could actually benefit them (their understanding of themselves and their worlds)… including in subjects held in either low or high esteem by their parents! That’s a trick-and-a-half, let me tell you, because half the students are willing to rebel against one while the other half determined to rebel against the other on this parental esteem alone!

        These students understood the ferocious competitive nature of the work force they were going to be entering and many realized that if they didn’t put themselves first and hold high expectations to be compensated – with what would seem to the older generation to be unreasonable and selfish demands from inexperienced workers – then nobody was going to advocate on their behalf. Economically in our system, greed is virtue and this is what is financially rewarded. But I also note that this ‘selfish’ generation also participates much more in all kinds of volunteer work when actually compared and contrasted using facts. In addition, I have also found the millennials to be far less gullible than their parents cohort. The downside is that they tend to endorse identity politics far more readily and without much if any critical review or skepticism of its long term effects because of its current social media popularity that is endorsed by mass media.

        n 2018-02-23 9:35 AM, Me-me-me-millennial wrote: > >

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      13. I appreciate your comment, tildeb.

        I think about it in relation to this article I read yesterday. It’s important to read these works to understand social perceptions and race relations at various times through history, even when we see what these authors try to ignore. I, also, think more about this “selfish” adjective which you attach to this group in relation to the entitlement and over-protectiveness I fore-mentioned finding this following article from the Times…

        I definitely agree that parenting plays into this idea of what is popular or less popular when it comes to certain disciplines, particularly creative disciplines which I think are frowned upon particularly in lower-economic regions where you do menial labor, repair auto mobiles, operate heavy machinery, shoot guns, and hunt and fish, amidst spitting with very old fashion understanding of what gender is, while wearing boots and rejoicing ‘Merica. You do find that negatively influencing the way in which students approach ethics and their own core of beliefs, their own thought processes, which may not necessarily be their own, only copycatting what dad or mom thought. I was unfamiliar with the term of identity politics, and once looking that up understand how it fits. I believe that to be a huge problem, as well.

        I was glad to read you achieved great levels of participation and attendance in your classes, and that success was achieved. Congratulations are in order.
        Count yourself lucky.

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      14. I think your blog post does more to address what you question which is related more to science than Fight Club, but I remain skeptical. I suggest Geology.


      15. I know that that’s the main criticism coming in our direction, but frankly, I haven’t seen it myself. What I see it a hugely educated cohort who is prepared to work hard, but also has to create its own opportunities – and that last bit is what my generation often struggles with, I feel. What I have seen is an emptiness in terms of purpose. People don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing and they seem to only be motivated by the next upgrade (qualification, rise, etc) and what others will think of it. Then again, maybe that’s everyone in their late 20s, always.

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      16. There was always a divide in America as far as taxes and labor. Technologies brought a digital divide and compounded the physical one. Communities are created at the lowest level and there’s a social exchange of culture. It’s good and bad. The collapse of a culture and there’s no exchange. The emptiness felt may be loss of community and the loss of community also originates elsewhere.

        Think about it like the bees. They just didn’t decide to say screw it I’m not pollinating. Humans evolved their environment faster than they understood it. So. They died.

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  4. Or any narcissism. I agree. Humility is vastly underrated, though it is the only root from which true wisdom may arise. We are all unique expressions of the One, in my opinion – all part of the human race, regardless of our origin or station in life. Making one of us no more special than another. Now if only the uber rich would comprehend this, the world might be a more equitable place. Good post, Martina. Aloha.

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  5. We all have the potential to do great things, whether it be writing great blog posts or something else, but just like being special, we have to seize that potential and make something of it, Millennials, Snowflakes, or otherwise.

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