Proto-Snowflakes - the sneaky pandemic
This week’s editorials, (available under the 'Column' heading on the website'), focus on some interesting topics like virtual meetings, whether the COVID-19 pandemic is over (having possibly become endemic) or not and a lack of faith in the Canadian healthcare system following the problems it has run into over the past two years. While my publisher Deb Sholdice handled the COVID-19 pandemic versus endemic issue, it really hit home for me on Monday night when North Huron Councillor Chris Palmer, representing the East Wawanosh Ward, mocked me (while being recorded) for wearing a mask to the council meeting.
When the meeting had taken a break before council entered an in-camera (closed-to-the-public) session, I thanked Councillor Palmer for helping me out because I’d been struggling with finding a column topic this week and his referencing my “stupid mask” reminded me that, as much as it’s my choice whether to wear a mask or not, there will always be people who have to judge everyone.
Palmer, when I told him about his gaffe, doubled down, asking me why I still wear a mask, as if it had any bearing on him whatsoever. I explained to him that my six-year-old (though I said five at the time, my bad) goes to school where diseases thrive, and I’m trying to protect the people around me, him included, from anything she brought home. I suppose I could have also mentioned I could have been exposed through illness at work or through immediate family members working in healthcare, but at the time I felt the one reason was enough. Not that the answer mattered - he had made the remark before even asking me if I had a reason.
On my way home, absolutely incensed that anyone would question or mock me for doing something that could only serve to benefit them, I had some time to think about Councillor Palmer and came to a realization: he has to be one of the first snowflakes, or Proto-Snowflakes, as I like to call them.
That term Snowflake gets thrown around a lot, so, before I get angry letters, let’s make sure they are penned for the right reason. Snowflakes are, according to a prominent reference website, someone who has an inflated sense of uniqueness (the kind that lets you judge others), are easily offended (like railing against a Pride Flag being up for a month because it doesn’t align with your very narrow set of values) and are unable to deal with opposing opinions (like seeing someone choosing to do something different than you and having to go all high school bully and snickering about it to the classmate, or councillor, beside you).
For just over two years, these Proto-Snowflakes have come out of the snow banks. It’s not enough that they have the freedom to choose (in this case, the choice to wear a mask), they have to belittle those who make a different choice. You have to be careful handling these more mature Snowflakes because they’re so sensitive that anything that is different from their
own belief results in these kinds of situations. Repeated exposure has led me to a practice of putting on a pair of metaphorical Snowflake-handling gloves.
Maybe, while many of us have been worried about the COVID-19 pandemic, we should have been worried about the proliferation of the Proto-Snowflake pandemic, which has been growing unchecked alongside COVID-19. What’s funny is so many of these Proto-Snowflakes seem to fall on the right wing of the political spectrum, you know, the wing of the spectrum that is responsible for the creation of the term snowflake.
Thanks to the climbing number of Proto-Snowflakes, those metaphorical gloves have been getting a workout over the past
30 months. It’s nice to finally be able to take them off and speak plainly: Councillor Chris Palmer screwed up. He mocked me, in the seconds before North Huron Township Council’s Sept. 19 meeting started, for wearing a mask. He chose to lean over and try to whisper an insult and got caught on camera. He felt he just had to remark, in a ridiculing way, on something that had literally no impact on him whatsoever.
Did it bug me? Well obviously at the moment it did, however when I had a chance to sit down and reflect on it, what bugged
me more is that old rule of thumb: if he was caught doing it once, it’s likely not the first time. If he’s doing it to me, only he knows what kind of comments he’s making about other people, other voters who attend council meetings.
One could also say the move reflects poorly on the rest of council, however Reeve Bernie Bailey reached out to me the morning after the meeting to assure me that wasn’t the case. He said the comments had no place before, during or after a council meeting and that council did not endorse or believe Palmer’s remarks.