In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that I am a solid Baby Boomer, born in 1958. It’s strange, because I don’t feel that old. I have trouble realizing that my youngest turned 30 this year, much less that I’ve become the older generation the younger one rails against.
In the past week or so I became aware of a new phrase that the younger generation is throwing at the older. It’s “OK, boomer.”
According to www.dictionary.com, OK boomer “is a viral internet slang phrase, used … to call out or dismiss out-of-touch or close-minded opinions associated with the baby boomer generation and older people more generally.” It’s apparently been around since early this year, though I hadn’t heard it until recently.
The current generation (Generation Z?) and millennials seem quite fond of this phrase. They toss it out to dismiss the views of those older than they. If I’m reading it correctly, these younger people are blaming us for certain issues, such as the high cost of college tuition or not dealing with climate change. They see us as condescending and out of touch. Thus, they toss out “OK boomer” to show their contempt for our beliefs and stands.
At the end of the article on dictionary.com’s website they say that other phrases that correspond to this one are “silence, boomer” and “shut up, boomer.”
I understand that every generation thinks the previous one doesn’t get it. Growing up, I know my parents didn’t always get my musical tastes but were smart enough not to raise a stink about it. And my generation was filled with those who were in the counter-culture movement, who had their own ways of dissing the older generation.
Now that I’m in the generation being dissed, I’m pretty sure I owe the previous generation an apology of sorts. So, sorry if I dismissed you, older generation.
The younger generation sees my generation as backwards technologically and politically. I’d argue that plenty of us are in touch with tech — you’re talking to someone who owns three laptops and a desktop computer — and disagreeing about politics is as old as time. Are our ideas to be ignored because they’ve been around a while?
Meanwhile, the whole attitude about older people as a group that can be dismissed does bother me to a certain extent. Whatever happened to “respect your elders?” I’m not saying you can’t disagree with an older person, but do you have to do so with a phrase meant to treat them as irrelevant?
Is it possible that an older generation that managed to survive without the “wisdom” of a younger one might have something to offer? The problem with a phrase like “OK, boomer” is that it closes down dialogue, something we badly need these days.
I get that we disagree. That’s the nature of things. But maybe, just maybe, if you younger folk would sit down and talk to us, you might find we have good reasons for what we believe. We’re not out of touch — we have a different perspective. And while you might still disagree with us, maybe you’d find it in your youthful hearts to respect us.
In turn, we will do our best not to dismiss you. We (or at least I) will listen. We may not agree, but we’ll try to see where you’re coming from. And maybe we can bridge the gap between us instead of widening it.
And to those who will dismiss this column with “OK, boomer?” Fine. Get off my lawn.