It’s war; generation Z vs baby boomers. Littering the internet is the frivolous use of the phrase “OK, boomer” as a means to belittle and criticise members of the older generation (1946 to 1964, to be exact). Avid users of twitter will have come across the meme countless times by now as this is where most young people are using it to respond to ‘adults’ who they feel are appearing condescending or imposing their possibly outdated opinions upon them. But, has the joke gone on for too long now?
Whether you’re a participant or a spectator of what has been coined “The Generational Blame Game”, the phrase ‘OK, Boomer’ is reinforcing the stereotypical view that the younger generation have on the old. And frankly, it’s probably not healthy.
Understandably, a lot of people may face generational barriers with their parents/members of older generations when it comes to topics such as: their views on sexual expression, the environment and possible career prospects. Obviously, we’re going to have differing views but since when did that become an opportunity to fixate and pinpoint the negatives of Baby Boomer’s values?
There’s a certain irony to targeting “Boomers” for the foundations they have laid for us, considering their foundations were put down by the generation before them. If you want to start blaming people, you’ll have to begin by pointing the finger at generations long before the baby boomers. On the other hand though, an article by Vox determined that “while boomers nit-pick and judge younger generations for their specific choices, it’s the boomers’ own choices that created the bleak socioeconomic landscape that millennials and Gen Z currently face.” Boomers criticise younger generations in equal measure to the blame they receive from millennials and generation Z.
OK Boomer is described as, what we all know and love to be, a meme. Whilst it’s sprung to fame more recently, and even has a TV show lined up in its name, the reality is, the cross-generational dialogue has been going on for a lot longer than a few months. It’s exactly what you would describe as “adding insult to injury”. In recent years, generation Z has faced the brunt of the torment, with baby boomers and millennials alike defining them as “addicted to their phones, “intolerant” of their elders, and stuck in a “different world” thanks to the internet.”
Is the meme becoming overused? Possibly. What were people trying to achieve in using the phrase? It’s meant to be cutting and dismissive – it seems that the younger generations are simply over it; bored of having to defend themselves from condescending and consistent criticism from older generations. Granted they aren’t all exclusively baby boomers but, OK Millennial doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. In reality, shifting the blame is a lot easier than facing the facts.
Younger generations are quick to blame boomers for a lot of today’s societal issues, honing in on all the things they got wrong, rather than the multitude of things they got right, which helped to lay positive foundations for generations to come. It’s wrong to blame the generation as a whole when really, it’s the people in positions of power who set us on the path we still currently walk.
Whilst intended as a joke initially, is the use of OK boomer having a negative effect on relationships across generations? Boomers feel that younger generations are being ageist towards them and are becoming increasingly entitled. Seemingly, there is a debate happening between boomers and generation z in which neither side cares to listen to the other.
What’s the real problem with using the phrase OK boomer? It runs a lot deeper than just offending a few golden oldies. It’s an issue that’s transgressed through time in which we have become caught up in the generational divides and lost focus on broader conversations that really should be getting our attention. In an article by The Washington Post, they stated that “the divides roiling society are more about power than age”, as a lot of the younger generations narrative is dictated by older generations – “run by the powerful, deaf to the
voices of the powerless…age was just part of a wider problem”.
If you’re going to take one thing away from this, consider in generations to come when ‘OK, Boomer’ becomes ‘OK Gen Z’ – will we actually be to blame for future issues? Or will we too feel targeted for something that isn’t entirely our fault?
Image Credit: www.epictop10.com. via Flickr