How So Many Millennials Became Snowflakes

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In a way, it’s not their fault.

Robby Soave, writing in Reason magazine, put it well, when commenting on a mental health facility for millennials charging $28,000 a month to try and help them cope with things like Hillary Clinton’s loss of the presidential election:

What’s most interesting about this scam, though, is the phenomenon that made it possible: the emotionally fragile college-aged millennial. No, not all young people are delicate snowflakes, not all college students are obsessed with their own oppression, not all millennials are suffering from weak or imagined cases of PTSD—but some of them are. Indeed, we hear stories about them all the time: from campus newspapers, from professors, and from the students themselves. We hear it from university mental health professionals who can’t keep up with the rising demand for counselling.

This isn’t really millennials’ faults, mind you. A wave of infantilizing trends in education and parenting, coupled with government policies driven by extreme safety paranoia, have convinced young people that everything is dangerous and traumatizing—everything that’s wrong with them can be traced back to some instance of marginalization.

Here’s the problem. Increasingly, young people are taught they’re entitled to at least as much happiness as their parents. It’s the American way, and it’s a beautiful thing. In America, unlike any other civilization in history, each generation does better than the last — materially, emotionally, and psychologically.

Yet in cruel contradiction, we don’t give these young people the tools to do it. We don’t teach them how to reason or think. We don’t teach them self-responsibility. We don’t tell them things like, “Sure, I have the money to buy this stuff for you. But I’m not going to. You have to earn the nice stuff yourself.”

In a strange way, both parents and their twenty-something (even thirty-something) children who won’t grow up, are the victims of capitalism’s success. Yes, capitalism — the thing most of them despise, and the whole reason they turned out in droves for socialist Bernie Sanders. True, capitalism as we know it is crippled by regulations, subsidies, behind-the-scenes pull, and all the other things which are not the product of genuine free enterprise. But even when badly hampered, capitalism has managed to make most parents rich enough (compared to earlier generations) that they don’t have to throw their children out at a certain age. Most parents won’t, and most parents don’t. And unless their children somehow absorb the values and virtues of autonomy, independence and self-responsibility that their schools, parents and political officials fail to teach them, they’re in deep trouble.

There are different ways not to throw your children out. One is the obvious, where your grown kids continue living at home into their 20s and 30s. Another is less obvious, but just as real, where you advance tens of thousands of dollars (much of it debt) to preserve the illusion they’re doing something when (especially at most colleges) they simply get more indoctrination that they’re perpetual victims who should have chips on their shoulders.

It’s like a mean trick. We show young people a land of plenty. We tell them, “This too can be yours.” But instead of telling (and showing) them, “This is how I got this far. You’ll have to apply the same principles of hard work and self-responsibility if you want to do the same,” we tell them things like, “There, there. You can’t be expected to get by if people bully you. Society is full of racists and mean-spirited people. Life is so awful. But we still expect you to grow up, somehow.” It’s not that most parents necessarily teach their kids these things. But the indoctrination of hard-core leftist public school programs, or Hollywood or sports celebrities spouting their P.C. entitlement garbage every day, are things a lot of parents are afraid to challenge, or don’t know how to challenge. Most of the young people end up buying it, and as a result find themselves literally or metaphorically living in their parents’ basements well into their 20s and beyond.

The missing ingredients are reason, self-initiative and self-responsibility. How many of these young people crippled with PTSD because Donald Trump managed to win the presidency will ever be told, “It’s time to make your own way in life, and we’re not going to help you any longer”? Granted, it’s cruel to raise young people with little or no sense of reasoning and self-responsibility, on the one hand, and then throw them to the wolves. But these are the causes of the problem we’re seeing.

Can you imagine the young people being “treated” by a $20,000 per month facility called Yellowbrick fighting World War II and freeing America from the Nazis and Japanese? I’m not saying I want those “good old days” back. But I am saying that without the proper mental and intellectual tools for survival, you can’t expect young people to rise to the occasion as if by magic. What’s done is done, but it’s never too late to appeal to the best in people. You could tell them, for example, “I think it’s time for you to go. While it’s true I have a comfortable place to live, you haven’t yet had the opportunity to make your own way in life. I’m putting the house up for sale and you’ll have to come up with a plan for yourself. I’m holding off on the $50,000 per year tuition at college until you first show me that you can take care of yourself more than you do.”

Snowflakery comes from a sense of emotional fragility. The rage expressed by young people who feel entitled to a socialist President to take care of their woes flows directly from (1) a profound sense of anxiety, and (2) a crippling sense of feeling lost that most of these young people’s parents cannot begin to understand. Why not? Because most of these parents were expected to fend for themselves, at least to some degree, in a way that the vast majority of people in the latest generation have not been expected to do, in part due to the successes of economic growth and prosperity that largely continued in America until the last decade or so. I’m not blaming the problem on capitalism, either. I’m blaming it on most parents’ inability to cope with their own material success along with the deliberate destruction of individualism and self-reliance as perpetuated by our toxic P.C. establishment of public schools, rotten socialist universities, and stupid politicians and media celebrities.

While it might seem mean to tell young people, “It’s time to go out on your own,” there’s nothing mean about saying (or implying), “You can do it. You have the mental tools to think. You can figure these things out.” It’s the kindest thing in the world. And it’s a hell of a lot kinder than allowing them to become (and remain) emotionally fragile snowflakes.

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