January 6, 2019

AN ARMY OF SNOWFLAKES: The British Army wants to recruit snowflakes to its ranks. What is it thinking?

Its new PR campaign features posters and TV ads calling on ‘snowflakes’, ‘selfie addicts’, ‘class clowns’, ‘phone zombies’ and ‘me me me millennials’ to sign up. One poster says: ‘Snowflakes – your army needs YOU and your compassion.’

Other posters likewise reframe forms of behaviour that are usually seen as self-indulgent, anti-social or attention-seeking in a positive light. The posters suggest that videogame and selfie addicts possess admirable levels of drive and confidence. The campaign also praises the ‘focus’ displayed by ‘phone zombies’ – that is, people who stare at their phones for long periods of time. Possibly the most grotesque message is the one saying it is okay to be self-obsessed and narcissistic. One poster, directed at ‘me me me millennials’, says: ‘Your army needs YOU and your self-belief.’

This really reveals the intellectual and emotional illiteracy of the people behind this recruitment campaign. They are confusing the insecure sensibility of the ‘me me me’ outlook with self-belief. Similarly, praising ‘snowflakes’ for their compassion is wrong – compassion is a byproduct of an altruistic sense of service, not moral flakiness and being easily offended.

The army’s snowflake campaign actually patronises the young. Most young people understand that self-obsession is not a positive thing. Indeed, there are many young people who are idealistic and who are prepared to serve their communities. Yet instead of trying to harness the positive attributes of the young, this campaign infantilises would-be recruits.

Is the 21st century British army at least still teaching self-defense against fresh fruit in basic training?

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