OK Boomer - Harmless comment or age discrimination?

The buzzword currently on everyone’s lips

The flippant response of Millennials to baby boomers is currently all over the media. What’s behind it and what does it mean? Are we slipping into a new form of age discrimination with ‘OK Boomer’?



Background

‘OK Boomer’ is all over the internet. The term has been trending on Twitter for weeks, continues to appear in funny memes, and has also appeared in the German-speaking world. But what does ‘OK Boomer’ actually mean? Opinions on the subject are wide and varied.

OK Boomer Meta Meme
Now it gets complicated…

On the one hand, it is young people who have found ‘OK Boomer’ to be an all-encompassing answer to the antiquated and privileged views of an arrogant older generation.

On the other hand, the increasing use of dismissive phrases like these that quickly brushes aside the values and opinions of an entire generation of people cannot be good.

The origins of ‘OK Boomer’ are difficult because the term is loaded with plenty of emotions such as frustration, anger, helplessness, and envy.

Who’s involved?

Boomer, or baby boomers. Baby boomers are individuals born after the Second World War (1946-1964).

Generation Y, also known as Millennials: Generation Y (Gen Y) or Millennials, refers to the generation that was born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s (1983-1999).

First usage

According to knowyourmeme, ‘OK Boomer’ first appeared in 2015 and has been regularly used in media such as Twitter since 2018. The term has also been printed on T-Shirts.

OK Boomer T-Shirt

Breakthrough

25-year-old New Zealand MP Chlöe Swarbrick used the term OK Boomer during a parliamentary session on November 5, 2019, after being repeatedly interrupted by an older colleague during her speech on climate protection.



What does it mean?

‘OK Boomer’ is used as a dismissive response to comments and teachings from an older generation. The meaning is roughly the same as: “You have no idea what’s going on anymore.”

It was originally seen as an answer to politicians, specifically old white men, who condescended to Millennials. So ‘OK Boomer’ is essentially a reaction from the younger generation. Over time, it has been used both humourously and with derision by young people to indicate that the older generation is no longer relevant.




Age discrimination with a ‘cool’ label?

The various socio-political reasons behind ‘OK Boomer’ can lead to long and detailed philosophical discussions. It is a discussion as old as ancient Greece.

Generation X leans back
Gen X

The term is also taking on more serious undertones. People see ‘OK Boomer’ as marking the end of friendly generational relations and some have even compared it to the use of racial slurs.

The fact that stereotypes and generalizations do not apply to everyone is obvious.

‘OK Boomer’ has quickly become a term to ridicule older people who are considered stupid and irrelevant because of their age.

Like any generalization, this is short-sighted. ‘OK Boomer’ is potentially giving age discrimination and ageism a cool term without thinking through the consequences.

Not everyone who says ‘OK Boomer’ uses it to discriminate. In many cases, ‘OK Boomer’ expresses a justified criticism against condescending remarks. But, if you consider that we live in a society where Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl climate change activist, can become the focus of irrational worldwide hate, particularly from older generations, then you can understand the Millennial reaction.

But those who use ‘OK Boomer’ to dismiss the opinions of older people are practicing age discrimination - and this, like any form of discrimination such as racism, sexism, and homophobia, should be strongly rejected.




WisR says: OK Bloomer!

We would like to propose something completely different and start a discussion about intergenerationality. Society benefits from intergenerational exchanges. That’s a fact. Generations can learn from each other by abolishing labels. The millennials of today will one day be replaced by a new generation and labelled as irrelevant.

WisR stands for the appreciation of all generations and that is what we are committed to. Demographic change is already underway - we are all getting older, living longer, and we still have a long way to go.

Baby boomers are the foundation of today’s society and many are starting their own business at the age of 50 or even 60.

What should this new generation be called? We already know: OK Bloomer!



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Written by: Daniel Eberharter