Editor’s note: this article contains graphic content.
Over the course of 2016, the term “snowflake” saw a lot of use — and not as a reference to the weather.
Depending on who you ask, it’s defined as either “a pejorative for an entitled person” or — more colloquially — “an overly sensitive person, incapable of dealing with any opinions that differ from their own.”
Since the presidential campaign season, it’s become practically synonymous with protesters against Donald Trump’s presidency:
True indicator of a snowflake: "but but but, she won the popular vote." It's over. Move on.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) January 26, 2017
Hey kids! On today's show, we are about to learn something new! This is the mating call by an endangered species, the Special Snowflake. ? pic.twitter.com/rMfUoG4Xf3
— Nina ☦️ Byzantina (@NinaByzantina) January 20, 2017
More recently, though, it’s become increasingly popular to use as a slight against President Trump, and his supporters, as well:
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) January 25, 2017
Trump voters calling anyone ever sensitive, childish, snowflake, scared of facts, needing a safe space, etc. The irony is overwhelming.
— Laura Shortridge (@DiscordianKitty) January 26, 2017
But if you’ve ever wondered where exactly the term first found its footing, novelist Chuck Palahniuk has an answer.
This week, The Hollywood Reporter notes, Palahniuk made it clear that he “coined the term ‘snowflake’ long before Trump supporters began using it” — specifically, in his 1999 book, “Fight Club.”
The term is used by “Fight Club” character Tyler Durden — whom the Evening Standard describes as leading “a generation of emasculated men to rediscover their inner strength by beating the hell out of each other” — saying:
“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.
We’re all part of the same compost heap. We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
In the movie adaptation of “Fight Club,” the line is delivered by actor Brad Pitt, who portrays Durden:
What’s more, according to Palahniuk, “snowflake” applies just as much in today’s culture as it ever did:
“There is a kind of new Victorianism.
Every generation gets offended by different things but my friends who teach in high school tell me that their students are very easily offended.”
While the term is now being used as a slight against both conservatives and liberals, the author added that — to him at least — it’s most closely associated with one particular side of the aisle:
“The modern left is always reacting to things. Once they get their show on the road culturally, they will stop being so offended.
That’s just my bulls*** opinion.”
In an interesting connection, Trump Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon told the Washington Post back in January of 2016 — while still executive editor of “alt-right” news site Breitbart — that “we call ourselves ‘the Fight Club’…you don’t come to us for warm and fuzzy.”
As to what Palahniuk himself thinks of Trump is anyone’s guess — when asked if he thinks folks are too offended by the president, the author and “snowflake” originator said he’d have to “pass on that one.”