Never have I laughed at something the same way I did when I saw that some people consider the phrase “Okay, boomer” an elder slur. I think it is ironic considering the baby boomer generation created the anti-establishment attitudes the youth has today.
Most notably, I am reminded of anti-war protester Jack Weinberg’s quote, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” from the days of Vietnam Protests and counter-culture.
“Okay, boomer” showed up on the internet a few months ago and, like most memes, has entered our speech as a cheap one-liner. The line creates a passive response to the Baby Boomer generation born in the 1940-60s during a period of unprecedented economic growth following World War II. Newer generations like the Millenials (born 1986 to 1996) and Gen Z (born 1997 to 2014) generally don’t like the condescending attitude of former generations who often believe the youth are entitled, addicted to technology and lazy.
This internet sensation has created quite some controversy. Already the phrase is considered a slur by baby boomers, has its own Wikipedia page and an article in the “New York Post” about a possible TV show. There is nothing more 2019 than that.
There couldn’t be a better time for “Okay, boomer” to come around. 2019 is the last year of the 2010s, and the 2010s are the third in a trinity of decades of huge change in American society alone. We have created the internet. We want to promote LGBTQ+ rights. We have a much greater social awareness about things like climate change, college tuition and affordable healthcare.
According to a post-vote study from Pew Research Center, the 2018 midterm elections had a higher turnout of Millennials and Gen Z than of Baby Boomer or older generations. The teenagers and young adults of today seem a lot more involved in the political process.
Perhaps this is how the anti-war protesters in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s felt about their own parents and grandparents. The status quo is not enough.
I don’t think “Okay boomer” is a slur. I think it’s just another internet meme that will die out by the time the year is over. But maybe instead of thinking of it as a dismissal remark, Gen Z and the Millennials could be more constructive. Instead of a way of tuning out the opinions and concerns of older people who might have more in common with you than you think.