On the “Snowflake”controversy

snowflake-clipart-snowflake-clipart-3The term “snowflake” has created what can only be described as a twitter storm among social media users, with many creating their own “self-reinforcing algorithms” for their time on social media platforms including the likes of Facebook and Instagram as well. As the term has been used by many politicians in particular, given the current political climate, its use has exploded and been incorporated into every day speech as we all become “cocooned with like-minded people”. “Snowflake” has become a loaded term as many so-called “keyboard warriors” gain a warm feeling of “righteous indignation” when they fuel their anger towards others through a screen and feel as though they can use language that they wouldn’t necessarily say face to face, as they defy the norms of politeness and express themselves in the extremist of means. John Suler, a professor of Psychology, commented on the “online disinhibition effect”, stating that behind the laptops, smart phones and other technological devices that people in the 21st century use as their means of power, “usual social restrictions, responsibilities and norms don’t apply”. The difference in how language is used on social media and face to face expresses how language is changing and causing the “polarisation” of society.


The tweet from Michael Gove which called people “humourless, deliberately obtuse, snowflakes” caused a social media backlash, also known as a “twitter storm”. Social media platforms such as twitter and Facebook allow people to hide behind their screens and create self-reinforcing algorithms. The uprising of social media has had an effect on social norms as “usual social restrictions, relationships don’t apply”, this has influenced the language change debate which is now turning “nasty”. John Suler called this the “online disinhibition effect” in which social media allows everyone to express their opinions on subjects such as politics, in a way that’s usually aggressive as it feels like an alternate reality and therefore wouldn’t be said in face to face conversations.


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