Trigger warning: opinions

Snowflake: “a small, feathery ice crystal, displaying delicate sixfold symmetry; sensitive to heat.”

Snowflakes are unique, beautiful and perfectly content to sit outside surrounded by other snowflakes. Be wary though, snowflakes are very delicate and if accidentally or intentionally exposed to heat, pressure or touch — they will melt.

For those of you who haven’t caught on yet, this is an analogy for many GC students. That’s right, I’m talking about many of you.

Goshen College students and alumni are, all too often, snowflakes. Terribly sensitive to outside arguments or beliefs and prone to “meltdowns,” it often takes only a candle’s worth of heat for your entire world to collapse.

Do you think you or your friends might be a snowflake? Well, if you want to find out, here are my “3 ways to identify a ‘snowflake.’”

Method 1: expose to heat.

This is far and away the least elegant method to identify a snowflake, but it can be quite the spectacle to watch.

This method requires an individual to enter an adverse political opinion into an otherwise homogeneous space. For example, if you’re in a pro-border security or pro-immigrant space, represent an aspect of the opposing views argument you find logical and be prepared to defend it.

If the people in that space engage you without calling you a racist or communist, congratulate them for they have passed the test. However, you will find that in many of these spaces, you will be branded a racist, you will be screamed at, there will be a Facebook post, and they will all feel very proud of themselves for the whole ordeal.

Snowflakes on this campus are all too happy to set someone straight for having an ideological viewpoint that they consider bigoted or hateful, so if they address you it will be in public, so as to avoid that “one-on-one conversation to better understand each other” garbage.

Method 2: experience the chill.

This method may sound like a mint gum commercial, but actually, I’m referring to the simple act of sitting in an ideologically insulated environment and learning what they consider acceptable and unacceptable.

Snowflakes are perfect, but they are also human. That means every now and then one of them will fall out of line and the way that group responds can show you what kind of environment you are in. This often manifests itself in the use of words like “safety” and “triggered.”

There are many people who have serious reasons to feel unsafe expressing themselves in a given space. Likewise, there are people who experience trauma that can be legitimately triggered in everyday life. It’s not fake. It’s not a show. Those people need our support, no questions asked.

However, if you use words like “unsafe” or “triggered” because someone brings up an adverse opinion on healthcare or environmentalism or literally any topic where you are not personally affected, you have no business saying you’re unsafe.

You’re scared; just acknowledge that (#notthatdeep). Snowflakes like to create spaces where discomfort is treated the same as safety, when it’s not. Deep down they just aren’t sure if they would be able to respond when challenged.

Quietly sitting and observing the chilling effect this mindset has on classrooms or friend groups can be a good indicator of whether or not you’re surrounded by snowflakes.

Method 3: snow is (often) white.

That’s right. This really is the perfect analogy. Snowflakes view themselves as on the side of the angels, so they like to carry around minorities in their purses like dogs they can take out to show their friends.

Snowflakes never only represent themselves because they can be more convincing when they can speak with all of the minority world behind them.

I’ll be straight to the point, there is nothing more annoying than a white person pretending to be offended on your behalf for something that doesn’t bother you. White people trying to be good people: speak for yourself and if you’re concerned someone is being offensive, just ask the person you think they’re offending.

That being said, snowflakes who are minorities can be just as bad. If a minority tells you what “Black people think” or “how immigrants interpret a given situation,” there is a strong chance they are basing it entirely on their personal recollection. People of color, just like “the whites,” have diverse opinions on every subject.

So, minorities who think they have a special privilege to speak for the one Black kid you knew in elementary school (yep, only one), are probably just using him to bolster their own shallow argument.

Now that we have the tools to identify these snowflake-like individuals living among us, where do we go?

I think the first thing we can do is put a stop to all the exaggeration and lack of introspection we partake in.

Why do we have to assume a person is hateful or our enemy? Why do we enjoy putting people in their so-called place and what does that do for the movement we represent?

My rule of thumb: “never attribute to malice what you can attribute to incompetence and stupidity.” If you think someone is wrong: prove it. Stop sitting behind your keyboard or in your insulated friend group denigrating people who might be more willing to join you if you presented the right arguments. Learn to take a joke. You’re made of more than ice and water.