The latest expression to make the rounds of popular culture is a dismissive quip younger people aim at their parents and grandparents: “Ok, Boomer.” This snarky bon mot is used to insult the generation that did not grow up with a smartphone growing out of its hand and often finds itself exasperated with the habits of Gens X, Y, and Z.
“Ok, Boomer” is partly a defensive response to criticism. Every older generation criticizes the younger one for their softness, their entitlement, even their style of dress and choice of music. Rather than bother themselves with a reasoned response to such criticisms, young people will simply hurl the disdainful “Ok, Boomer” at their critics.
Sometimes I applaud such a response. For instance, a young woman in the New Zealand legislature cut off a heckler during her speech on the climate crisis with an “Ok, Boomer,” and then resumed her oration without missing a beat. Indeed, when it comes to certain subjects, reasoning or defending just seem to be a waste of time.
Yet I resent being lumped in with climate change deniers, people espousing intolerance toward minorities and gays, or others, many of a certain age, who hold antiquated and mean-spirited views. We Baby Boomers are no more homogenous a group than any other social, ethnic, or religious demographic. Indeed, the Baby Boomer generation can take credit for the Civil Rights and women’s movements, as well as the beginnings of environmental activism in the Sixties and Seventies.
I also dislike it when younger people mock their elders for having a hard time with modern technology. I’d like to see them try to dial a rotary phone or type on a manual typewriter – or read cursive for that matter. As a meme I’ve seen on Facebook puts it, “Never make fun of me for needing help with computer stuff. I taught you how to use a spoon!”
Like many expressions, I’m sure “Ok, Boomer” will wane in popularity eventually. In the meantime, I’d like to assure you young whippersnappers that I’m an OK Boomer, and I’m not going to take any of your guff. As a 1967 self-help book would say, “I’m OK, You’re OK.” Let’s leave it at that.