Tuesday, November 19, 2019

OK, Boomer

As a part of the very end of Generation X, I feel a little odd to comment on this, as I'm not part of the new generational fight, but it's interesting nonetheless.  For those not in the know, "OK Boomer" is a retort used to dismiss or mock perceived narrow-minded, outdated, negatively-judgmental, or condescending attitudes of older people, particularly those of the baby boomer generation.  The phrase has been particularly latched on to by the Millennials and Generation Z that followed them.

It started as a reaction to all the negative stigma the older generations have associated with the millennial generation.  Millennials are all entitled snowflakes, millennials are killing this, millennials never grow up, they don't leave the house, etc.  Millennials in response came up with a two word retort, "OK Boomer."

It is believed to have been first used in April 2018, but took off in January 2019, spreading like wildfire throughout the year.  To the point where media articles about the phrase started to surface.  It's spread has been largely through social media, with the platform TikTok playing a large part in its usage.

Of particular notoriety, 25-year-old New Zealand MP Chloe Swarbrick, while giving a speech supporting a climate change bill in Parliament, was heckled by an older member of parliament interjecting disbelief to her claim that the average age of parliament was 49 years old.  She responded "OK Boomer" and continued with her speech.

The response to "OK Boomer" would be hilarious, if it weren't so sad.  The same generations who were comfortable labelling millennials and generation z, portraying them as lazy, as worthless, as unmotivated, as snowflakes, have had a meltdown with regard to "OK Boomer.

Many consider it highly ageist.  Conservative radio host Bob Lonsberry went as far as labelling the word as "the n-word of ageism."  Even Dictionary.com had to shut this down, responding to his now deleted tweet with a simple "No."  Chloe Swarbrick revealed the response she received from her retort in Parliament.

It's easy to point out that we should all just get along.  That such a simple dismissive retort is not productive in helping us all move forward.  But it's also easy to understand the frustration.  If millennials are entitled snowflakes, you have to look at the generation that made them.  The ones that raised them, that determined what their educational curriculum would look like, that invented the participation trophies in the first place.

If anything, OK Boomer may be a little timid for millennials anger at being blamed for everything.  It really is just a joke retort literally using the name of the generation.  Why not let it be taken that way?

Maybe the problem is that Millennials and Generation Z are more like the Greatest Generation than they are Baby Boomers.  The majority grew up in a continual time of war.  After an economic collapse.  There are many who's idea of success is just to be able to afford to eat out whenever they want.  That are struggling to pay off enormous student loans, to afford a house or even a car, to find just one job that will pay their bills.

But, what do I know?  I'm just a late Gen-Xer.

Perhaps, then I should just respond with the motto of my generation:


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