We Millennials are a generation that gets shit on weekly by the baby boomer generation. We’re lazy, we’re too entitled, we killed the mayonnaise industry (that’s not even a joke); the list is endless. Gen Z face similar critiques.
The hard-hitting critique from boomers, however, occurs when we’re labelled as sensitive lefties for caring about the world. If we dare to advocate for climate change, call out systemic racism and discrimination, or talk about the struggles of breaking into the Sydney housing market, we’re mockingly labelled as “snowflakes”. Arguing against it is in vain, because classic boomers often see any rebuttal as reinforcement of their argument.
Boomers for the past ten years: millennials are lazy, entitled, whiny, dependent on their parents, and killing all the industries
Millennials (after literal years of criticism): ok, boomer
Boomers: *heads collectively explode*
— Mrs. Campfire, Fallopian Princess (@mrs_campfire) November 5, 2019
Why We Use ‘Ok Boomer’
The solution to this labyrinth? Apparently, it’s the phrase ‘Ok Boomer’. It’s being used as a universal defence toward archetypal boomers who are condescending and overly vocal (yet under-informed) about things like the current housing economy and climate change. “Ok Boomer” has been meme’d, plastered on T-shirts and even used in parliament as a means of rebutting what are often right-wing nationalist rants from the older generation.
The phrase is celebrated as some hilarious means of fighting back against classic boomer bullshit. Some say its target isn’t necessarily generational, and that the phrase ‘boomer’ has been reworked to define a personality type (“someone who is intolerant to new ideas and who is ignorant to new ideas”) rather than the traditional definition of ‘baby boomer’: those born roughly from 1946 to 1964. “Ok Boomer” has been used on Twitter as a retort towards users who make non-PC statements.
But Is It Really Helpful Though?
It’s great to see young people throwing some sass back at their biggest critics. But what does it actually achieve? Very little. In fact, throwing “okay boomer” at someone during an argument is an insanely useless way of fostering debate, because it reinforces the negative stereotypes boomers have of millennials being dismissive and lazy.
I’m not arguing that it’s offensive or inappropriate per se (I’ve definitely had some giggles at the Tik Toks and memes), I just think our energy could be better spent tackling the actual issues at hand rather than hurling stereotypes at a generation which isn’t entirely responsible for the attitudes that “okay boomer” is trying to critique.
ok boomer is so old already that the correct response to when someone says “ok boomer” is “ok boomer”
— Heather Anne Campbell (@heathercampbell) November 7, 2019
Despite some teens coming out and claiming “Ok Boomer” targets a personality type rather than a generation, the use of boomer as a generalisation has people thinking it’s an ageist slur. Gen Z and millennials are throwing “okay boomer” at anybody older than them who dares to disagree with them – the same way critical boomers use “millennial” to discredit a young person’s point of view via their age. It’s not okay and doesn’t yield any results, and we don’t need to stoop to their level to make ourselves heard.
Boomers Aren’t As Much To Blame As You Think
The issue is the mass-generalisation of our grandparents’ generation. “Okay boomer” is an inefficient missile. It forgets the real enemies: those in power who enact the offending legislation, and those who voted them in – a group which extends far beyond boomers.
In fact, it’s been argued that a tonne of the issues we blame boomers for are actually the fault of the generations preceding them. Our efforts are better focused actually lobbying for change and educating each other, rather than cutting the generational divides deeper.
“Okay boomer” is certainly an entertaining trend. To a degree, it’s nice to finally be giving some sass to the boomers who dismiss our concerns about climate change and the economy, among other things. But it’s certainly not winning any debates, and often fails to attack the real culprits.