'Ok Boomer' is More Complicated Than Just Memes – Here's Why
Thu, April 22, 2021

'Ok Boomer' is More Complicated Than Just Memes – Here's Why

In the past, the terms “baby boomers” and “millennials” were used to describe people who were born in a particular period. Now, it has become a blanket term to reference predominant trends, concerns, and values of an entire generation / Photo by: AndriyShevchuk via Shutterstock

 

In the past, the terms “baby boomers” and “millennials” were used to describe people who were born in a particular period. Now, it has become a blanket term to reference predominant trends, concerns, and values of an entire generation. For instance, millennials are highly regarded as entitled, lazy, poorly prepared and without aspirations. 

"Boomer," on the other hand, is now being widely used to insult older people. Millennials and members of Generation Z have been using the phrase “Ok, boomer” to air out their frustrations. While some think that this new phenomenon is rude and the end of “friendly generational relations,” the reasons behind it are valid. The “Ok, boomer” phenomenon started when a TikTok video was uploaded showing a grey-haired man thought to be a baby boomer.

According to USA Today, an internationally distributed American daily, middle-market newspaper that serves as the flagship publication of its owner, the Gannett Company, the man described millennials and Gen Z as people who have "Peter Pan syndrome” or the inability to grow up. "They think that the utopian ideals that they have in their youth are somehow going to translate into adulthood," said the unidentified man. On a split-screen next to him, a Gen Z-er silently holds up a notepad saying, “Ok, boomer.”

Since the first week of November, the hashtag #OKBoomer has been used more than 732 million times. Memes have also started appearing on social media. The disagreement between these two generations is nothing new. Throughout the years, younger and older generations have found themselves at odds. 

A 2018 poll by SurveyMonkey, an online survey development cloud-based software service company, showed that 51% of millennials blame baby boomers for making things worse for their generation. According to Fast Company, the world's leading progressive business media brand, Generation X wasn't pleased with boomers either. The survey revealed that 30% said policies created by their generation had made things worse. 

A Cry of Frustration

While some people, especially those of older generations, believe that “Ok, boomer” is rude, the phrase specifically targets those who have certain political persuasions: older people who deny climate change, show resistance to technological advancements, and discriminate against marginalized communities. 

“Ok, boomer” is a rallying cry for millions of fed-up millennials. The younger generations have been shouldering shame, blame, and dismissal from older generations for many years. Caitlin Fisher, the author of “The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation,” stated that it seems like the world the older generations are leaving for millennials is a deck stacked against them. “The minimum wage is not livable, health care costs are exorbitant (while many boomers rely on tax-funded healthcare programs and simultaneously tell us that socialism will be the downfall of society), living and education expenses are increasing far faster than wages keep up,” she said. 

However, every time millennials complain, baby boomers easily dismiss those valid concerns. Most of the time, they make young adults feel like they are not allowed to complain. According to Vox, an American news and opinion website owned by Vox Media, “Ok, boomer” implies that the baby boomers often misunderstand millennials and Gen Z culture and politics.

The concerns or issues that younger generations are raising aren’t just typical generational conflicts. Mostly, these issues are politicized since baby boomers have become so fond of judging young adults with their financial choices, gender expression, leisure activities, approach to job-hunting, and many more. 

“Ok, boomer” is a rallying cry for millions of fed-up millennials. The younger generations have been shouldering shame, blame, and dismissal from older generations for many years / Photo by: file404 via Shutterstock

 

Baby Boomers Are to Blame for Economic Despair

It’s ironic how baby boomers continue to judge and nitpick younger generations for their life choices when their own choices have resulted in the bleak socio-economic landscape that younger generations are currently facing. Author and Wall Street Journal columnist Joseph Sternberg agrees that baby boomers are the ones who should be blamed for our economic despair.

In his recent book titled "The Theft of a Decade: How the Baby Boomers Stole the Millennials' Economic Future," Sternberg stated that millennials have been placed in a world with a broken economy and a combustible job market due to the careless choices of baby boomer politicians. Boomers have spent many years finding ways to continue boosting investment and economic growth but in problematic means. 

When millennials complain about having a hard time finding jobs or struggling with student debts or starting a career, boomers often respond with “Life has never been as good for anyone as it is for you. You guys can’t complain about not being able to climb onto the property market when you’re paying $4 for a Starbucks coffee, $8 for avocado on toast for brunch.”

This is one of the reasons younger generations have so much anxiety. Their concerns are often disregarded just because an older generation says their livers were more difficult back in their day. Young people struggle to survive in a society where they are not heard or acknowledged. While the reasons behind the “Ok, boomer” phenomenon should be considered, younger generations should not use the phrase to insult older people. Instead, this is a great way to start conversations about the issues that need to be addressed.