By Manavi Nag
When we hear about generational debates, it’s somewhat normalised. Debates about a cornucopia of issues, from climate change to racism between generations of people, is not new for us to hear. However, to many “Ok Boomer” is simply a phrase to dismiss those of the older generations and their ideals, but to others “Ok Boomer” is said to be ageist and compared to racial slurs as well. So when do we draw the line between banter between generations and possibly stereotypical and offensive phrases?
At the start of this November, a video was posted on TikTok (a social platform where people can post videos of them lip-syncing) of a man from the Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964) ranting about how Millenials (1981-1996) and Gen- Z’ers (1996-2015) have “Peter-Pan Syndrome”. Peter Pan Syndrome, essentially is, the inability or reluctance to grow up from a child/adolescent to an adult. The man in the TikTok video stated that “they don’t want to grow up”. Some days later, a Gen-Zer on TikTok split screen-ed his video and simply showed a notebook saying “Ok Boomer”.
It gained even more attention when, Chloe Swarbrick a 25-year-old, a lawmaker in New Zeland was heckled when talking a Zero Carbon Bill. In reply to this disrespectful action, she replied Ok Boomer and continued on.
Ok, Boomer refers to the Baby Boomer Generation, who are long associated with having backwards and very conservative views and now what is coined as “old-fashioned views”. The phrase quickly gained global traction, from children in school using it as a retort to their teachers, to kids using it in retaliation to disagree with their parents. It is globally recognised as a call-cry or call to action for all Millenials and Gen-Zers to use.
But what’s so revolutionary about “Ok Boomer” and what’s so special about it? The main reason that so “Ok Boomer” has gained so much attention is that for an extremely long time, Millenials and Gen-Zers have felt misunderstood and suppressed by the older generations especially the Baby Boomers because of the overall drastic political and social views. From lifestyles to mindsets and beliefs, baby boomers and Millenials/gen z have always had varying thoughts.
Millenials and Gen-Zers have felt misunderstood and suppressed by the older generations
It’s simply that Millenials especially feel like they aren’t taken seriously because of the negative stigma that surrounds them about them being unable to grow up and have no ideas and opinions about anything substantial. Mainly because Millenials and Gen-Z er grew up in time surrounded by technology and much more exposure to real-life issues, earlier on in life, that at early ages could form their own opinion about world issues without their parent’s influence.
Many also believe that millennials and baby boomers are the most coddled generations to ever exist and hence causing them to be generalised as entitled and dumb. Another reason as to why Millenials especially are often dismissed by the older generations is because the older generations are constantly comparing themselves to the Millenials.
Baby Boomer and Gen-X (1965-1980) had it comparatively easy economically to secure a house at a young age, a well paying and stable job and enough income to raise a secure and middle to upper-middle-class family easily. However, for Millenials, they have entered the workforce at a financially unstable time. Because of this, during the beginning of their careers, they didn’t earn very much which made social mobility and moving up the economic ladder harder. The cost of college and tuition also peaked, which made paying off student loans harder as they were expensive and the Millenials didn’t have the money to pay it off. All of these factors make it harder for Millenials to buy houses, raise a stable family and live comfortably at an age where Baby Boomers and Gen Xs could easily do all of this. The Baby Boomers and Gen Xs could see this as Millenials not working hard enough, or simply failing to be financially, socially and economically secure.
Because of all this negativity and hate that Millenials and Gen Z faces from the Baby Boomers, they have resorted to two simple words; Ok Boomer. It is a clever retort for anything that Boomers say that millennials or Gen Zs want to dismiss or disregard because they think it is unimportant. One could say that it is the younger generations way of getting back at the older generations for dismissing all their opinions and views.
However, some Baby Boomers are arguing that Ok Boomer is ageist. It could be argued that it is targeting a certain age group of people and creating a negative generalisation or stereotype around them. But the other side could argue that it is simply what has been happening to them their entire lives and Ok Boomer is just a taste of their own medicine.
For now, we shall just have to watch this unravel, however it is certainly not the end of Millenials and Gen-Z ers making a stand.