The first rule of Whine Club is…


The first rule of Whine Club is: you constantly talk about Whine Club. You talk about it, you Facebook it, tweet it, Snapchat it, YouTube it, write about it, email about it, organise meetings and marches and sit-ins about it, create a safe space for it, link it up with other Whine Clubs around the country, create a Whine movement.

The leftist writer Chuck Palahniuk, he of the “Fight Club” fame, takes credit for the introduction of the term “snowflake” into our cultural-political vocabulary:

“It does come from Fight Club,” he confirmed down the phone from his home in Oregon. “There is a line, ‘You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.’”

In Fight Club, Tyler Durden leads a generation of emasculated men to rediscover their inner strength by beating the hell out of each other.

Two decades later, Palahniuk sees the modern generation as delicate flowers more than ever. “There is a kind of new Victorianism,” he said. “Every generation gets offended by different things but my friends who teach in high school tell me that their students are very easily offended.”

They might not be beautiful and they might not be unique, but they are certainly precious and melt (down) easily. They are the Grandchildren of the Revolution, with the emphasis on “children”. Thanks to decades of widespread middle-class and upper middle-class prosperity as well as lax and lackadaisical parenting practices, our society has ended up with a generation of Peter and Peta Pans; children who never grow up, children who are still children in their teens and twenties.

When you look at those Millennials and their older siblings the Ys, who are currently engaged in political and social activism on and post campus, what strikes you about their behaviour is its uncanny similarity to that of a 2 or a 3-year old:

  • frequent temper tantrums
  • inability to take “no” for an answer
  • perception that the world revolves around them
  • problems following rules and respecting boundaries
  • desire for instant gratification of one’s wishes
  • throwing things as a sign of frustration and displeasure
  • screaming as the preferred mode of communication
  • short attention span and impatience
  • frequent crying
  • unrealistic sense of expectations and entitlement
  • never-ending complaints
  • kicking, hitting and lashing out
  • disregarding those older and authority figures

Most of us grew out of “the terrible twos”; now, thanks to a generation of parents who failed at their task, and whose failure has been consistently over the years reinforced by the education system, we have a cohort of children who are obtaining tertiary qualifications, entering the labour market, and voting. Jesus said “suffer the children”, but this is not what he meant.

We are not facing a political as much as a behavioural problem. The internet is full of useful advice on how to deal with misbehaving toddlers, but we have now entered uncharted waters of trying to cope with young adults whose childhood development has been retarded (in the proper sense of the word). It took a whole village to hold back a child; now it will take a whole society to make them grow up really fast.

P.S. Because my life is full of synchronicities, while taking a break from writing this post I have chanced upon a following paragraph in a book I’m currently reading:

To a puzzled German artillery officer who happened to glance out of the window of his unit’s base in a school in Arnhem, it seemed at first that, in the distance, snowflakes were falling from the sky. Then he realised that “it never snows in September. They must be parachutists.”

(emphasis mine; John Nichol and Tony Rennell, “Arnhem: The Battle for Survival”, p.26.) These men – and women who supported them on the home front – were most certainly no snowflakes.