If you’ve ever been criticized by an old person for being “too sensitive” about your mental health or for believing in climate change, you must have felt readily on board with (and have probably already used) the latest meme: “OK, boomer.”
For those who aren’t familiar, the new viral trend, which apparently started on TikTok, is meant to mock Baby Boomers’ (and maybe some Gen Xers’) old-school ways. And while it’s been funny for most Millennials and Gen Zers, who started the meme, it isn’t all fun and games.
Aside from the very obvious fact that it’s basically generational discrimination, using the phrase is a dismissal of whatever “boomers” have to say, considering that the older generation may just be giving us guidance and much-needed feedback. It undermines their point of view. Because while we might disagree with them, we can’t always just put down every little thing they try to tell us.
Of course, it doesn’t help when said boomers become defensive, either. I saw a tweet that consisted of a screenshot of an email, stating that using the phrase “OK, boomer” wasn’t work-appropriate, especially because it’s seen as “discrimination or harassment on the basis of age”. While I agree that it probably shouldn’t be used in that setting, others have also pointed out that:
- “Millennial” has been used in a derogatory way at work, too. (Heard of the term “entitled little snowflake” before?)
- It’s not okay to discriminate against boomers but what about the LGBTQ+ members of the workforce? Where are their anti-discrimination laws?
Maybe we should be using the spread of this meme as a learning experience: For the boomers who feel insulted by the clap back, maybe that just means you have to examine yourself too. What did you say or do that garnered that type of response? For the millennials and Gen Zers who use the phrase, are you just trying to insult the person or do you have justifiable reasons for doing so?
You might be wondering: Why is this person analyzing a meme? Because, as silly as this may sound, it isn’t just a meme. It’s the cry of the youth. (This still sounds really funny to me as I type this out but I have a point here. Just hear me out.)
Chlöe Swarbrick, MP (a member of parliament) for the Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand, used “OK, boomer” at a heckler in New Zealand parliament just a week ago. She explained in an article on The Guardian that her use of the phrase was “symbolic of the collective exhaustion of multiple generations,” and that made me realize just how much meaning it really holds.
We’re not just tired of hearing remarks on our different lifestyles or how whiney we are. We’re tired of the growing negative effects that those comments have made on our society and our environment.
“OK, boomer” isn’t just a good burn to the oldies, even if it is pretty effective being used that way. It’s the younger generation being more upfront with how “done” we are with all the bullshit. We’re fed up, and we just want to change that.