That's the reluctant conclusion of the author of an article titled "The Truth About Generation Snowflake is Even Worse Than We Feared".
... we have an entire generation now – really anybody under the age of 25 – which seems to think a) that mental health problems are common, b) that having one is a legitimate reason either to avoid doing something undesirable or to receive special treatment of some kind, and c) that it’s wrong to ‘judge’ or stigmatise anybody if he or she suffers from such a problem. And the effect of those beliefs is the same, however sincerely they are held: avoidance of responsibility; self-centredness and navel-gazing; excuse-making and shoddiness. Each year a growing number of undergraduate students on my course don’t sit their final exam in May, when they should, but during the re-sit period in August, because their mental health issues are purportedly so crippling. Does it matter whether this is because they are just pretending and want a few more months to revise, or because they are genuinely in dire mental straits? At the sharp end, the consequences are identical.
One used to be able to convince oneself that kids would grow out of this kind of thing once they entered the ‘real world’ of employment – just as one used to be able to convince oneself that they would grow out of being woke when surrounded by real adults. The truth is that the opposite is happening: society is being forced not just to accommodate but to encourage the eccentricities of the young. Hence my institution and its 25% exam extension bonus for the anxious, and every employer on LinkedIn advertising its ‘duvet days’ and ‘mental health afternoons’ and therapeutic working environments. What’s worse is that the grown adults, who have no excuse because they were raised in the good old days of the stiff upper lip, are getting in on the act. Last year, when a student at my institution unfortunately died, the other students in his various seminar groups (who barely knew him) were encouraged to apply for extensions to the submission deadlines for their coursework by their 40-something module tutor on the basis that “I’m sure you guys are struggling”. The same staff member later himself went off work for four months (at full pay, of course) with that other favourite, ‘stress’.
I don’t therefore believe that a solution can be found to this issue now; these attitudes are ingrained and almost universal among younger people (though I am aware, of course, that there are plenty of exceptions) and, as I have suggested, are even infecting the old. I’m afraid we are simply going to have to watch a vast experiment unfold – the political and cultural consequences that follow when, for the first time in human history, the majority of society describes itself as suffering from a mental health problem and deploys it as a ‘get out of jail free’ card at the drop of a hat. When, indeed (consider the absurdity of the times in which we live!), having an abnormally low mood has become normal. And when this condition is at its rifest among the professional classes – doctors, teachers, lawyers, accountants, architects, civil servants – who have graduated from university and basically run society. The only advice I can give is to hold on to your hat – because things are about to get interesting, and not in a good way.
There's more at the link.
I can't help but agree with the author as far as many urban youth are concerned. They've become past masters at exploiting the bleeding heart liberals, nanny-statists and behavioral apologists who infest our society. Whether it's gaining an unfair advantage, wriggling out of taking responsibility for their actions, or reducing - if not eliminating - the punishment due to them for violating our laws and standards, they always find an excuse. Of course, real life tends to be a slap in the face to them when they eventually run into it - but the problem is, often they don't run into it until it's too late. They're coddled and sheltered from the consequences of their fecklessness until they finally run out of excuses, and then they blame "the system" or "the Man" or "racism" or "intolerance" or some or other phobia for the sudden, harsh reality in which they find themselves.
A classic example is the juvenile (in)justice system. During my years as a prison chaplain, I lost count of the number of angry, embittered inmates who were convinced the system was against them, and they were victims instead of criminals. Why? Because in crime after crime after crime, the juvenile (in)justice system did nothing effective to teach them the error of their ways. They received slaps on the wrist instead of real punishments, and were (sometimes literally) allowed to get away with murder on the grounds of their youth. The day after they turned 18, they proceeded to do exactly what they'd done so many times before - but this time the system treated them as adults, and slapped them with a more appropriate penalty for their actions. They were horrified, disgusted, angry, vengeful. They did nothing more than they'd been doing for years, but now they were being victimized for it! It's hard not to see where they're coming from. They should have been slapped down harder and harder for each successive crime, so that they got the message early on that there was no future in such a life. They weren't - and now that reality had caught up with them, they couldn't understand it and didn't know how to handle it. Thus, they viewed themselves as victims rather than perpetrators.
I don't know that I'd wish this on any effective armed force, but I have to say that one of the best cures for this sort of "special snowflakery" (criminal or otherwise) used to be compulsory military service. I know I went into uniform as a self-centered, entitled, stuck-up little git. It took me all of a couple of minutes of exposure to my basic training instructors to realize that if I wanted to survive, let alone thrive, I was going to have to do some very serious, very rapid growing up! By the time I'd been in that environment for a couple of years, I'd learned the hard way to be a far more balanced human being - because every time it seemed I hadn't, my instructors and/or my comrades in arms would beat the stupid out of me, sometimes literally. I wasn't alone in having to learn that, either. Most of us emerged from military service "sadder but wiser", as the old saying goes.
Unfortunately, with the death of the draft, that learning experience is no longer available to our young people. Perhaps we should change that. The truly "special" snowflakes wouldn't survive it, and the rest of us would be spared their excessively irritating presence thereafter. What's not to like?