Okay boomer

Sadie McMullen

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What comes to mind when one hears Baby Boomers? Successful? Rich? Recently, descriptions have turned to patronizing, close minded and pretentious. Boomers have earned themselves a bad reputation with younger generations by adopting a “holier than thou” attitude. Boomers seem to be a symbol of easily obtained wealth and power achieved through luck and circumstance, so when they try to give “advice” it comes across as condescending to young people.

Millennials and Generation Z have been the target of Baby Boomer entitlement for long enough to make them finally snap. The phrase “Ok Boomer” conveys the sentiments that both Gen Z and Millennials share when it comes to unwarranted input from the Baby Boomer generation in a simple but devastating comeback. What started off as a viral TikTok developed into a slew of memes made by Gen Z as a way to share their dislike of constant belittling from Boomers. Various forms of merchandise have been sold by Gen Z teens who didn’t hesitate to jump on the bandwagon and use it to their own advantage.

WJ students have embraced the phrase, using it on social media and at school. Junior Ashley Wallace believes that there is no intended harm saying it in a lighthearted way.

“I think ‘Ok Boomer’ is pretty funny as long as it isn’t used directly to insult or belittle a senior citizen in the same way they have done to us,” Wallace said. “It’s like the ‘no u’ of ageism.”

While most of Gen Z sees it as a harmless joke, some Boomers have taken it as a very serious personal attack, going as far to call it ageist discrimination. A plethora of angry articles have been published, including titles like “If You Call Me a ‘Boomer’ You Are Committing a Hate Crime,” “Why saying “OK, boomer” at work can be age discrimination” and “‘OK Boomer’ Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations; Now it’s war.” The aggressive response has been mostly one-sided as all Gen Z has done is coin the phrase. This one small phrase caused an all-out “war” according to Boomers who quickly called to arms.

English teacher Ian Matthews gave students the option to discuss “Ok Boomer” in a free write assignment. The discussion included heated opinions from Gen Z students about Baby Boomers, and humorous takes on the meme.

“In practice it tends to shut down dialogue instead of opening it up, which is potentially problematic,” Matthews said. “I understand how it works, it’s meant as a blanket response to misunderstanding among generations.”

Students in Matthews’ class support his understanding of the meme. Junior Ellen Wang wrote about the phrase, agreeing that it can be taken too far.
“I think that in the context that young people use the phrase today it is not derogatory or meant to be insulting,” Wang said. “It’s supposed to be a joke.”