I guess I'm out of step--behind the curve. Until this morning, I had heard rumbling about the clash between Boomers and Millenials but wasn't aware that social media was abuzz with perceived generational divides and have created #OkBoomer as a meme that has spread worldwide. (BTW, this is not, in my mind, a shout out as in "You go, Boomer. It's more like a dismissal, a "whatever." You've had your shot. You blew it. We're over it.)
“OK boomer” implies that the older generation misunderstands millennial and Gen Z culture and politics so fundamentally that years of condescension and misrepresentation have led to this pointedly terse rebuttal and rejection. Rather than endlessly defend decisions stemming from deep economic strife, to save money instead of investing in stocks and retirement funds, to buy avocados instead of cereal — teens and younger adults are simply through.
"It’s not really about age — and it’s more complicated than just memes."
Nov 19, 2019, 10:00am EST
As a Boomer growing up in the sixties, I saw my parents and most members of the Greatest Generation as conservative, rigid, and a major impediment to the causes many of us believed in: anti-war, feminism, racial equality. (Oh, how could I forget? Sex, drugs, and rock n' roll.) I don't remember if we had a phrase, some would call it a slur, to refer to this older generation. And there was no internet to spread the tag to thousands, if not millions. Still, there was distrust and an underlying sense that our parents didn't have a clue.
Oh, and one song I do remember is the Isley Brothers' "Fight The Power."
I can't play my music
They say my music's too loud
I kept talkin about it
I got the big run around
When I rolled with the punches
I got knocked on the ground
With all this bullshit going down
A generational divide is nothing new. Somehow, it feels different now that I'm part of the generation that Millenials look at as the folks who ruined the environment, broke the bank for social programs, and who are generally uncomfortable, if not downright appalled, by the "Everbody" bathrooms, purple hair, tats, gender fluidity & more.
Between an NPR segment I listened to this morning and an online NPR "debate" between a Millenial and Boomer that I read after that, I understand the #OkBoomer tag but sure don't like it:
Jill: (A Millenial) Overwhelmingly, older Americans (and especially the white ones) vote for policies and politicians that undermine the American dream for people my age and younger.
Is "OK Boomer" rude and dismissive? Sure, and it's not my insult of choice. But let's look at the concerns on each side. Millennials are worried about pervasive economic insecurity, a warming planet, a broken health care system that means, incidentally, that we're dying younger, a social safety net full of holes, out of control college and childcare costs, growing income inequality and the rise to power of right-wing strongmen from nationalist movements the world over (and in the US, a nationalist-leaning Republican party that is increasingly white, and comes with its own television propaganda arm). From what I can see, you're more interested in yelling at us about silly, trumped-up culture war fights stoked by Fox News: Campus "safe spaces," alleged violations of free speech by a handful of college kids (check out conservative campuses if you really want to see free speech being shut down), how we're whiny live-at-home snowflakes.
Paul: (A Boomer)
Jill, I'm waiting for real arguments. Complaining about how tough you have it in the "gig" economy of the richest, most successful and diverse democracy in the history of the planet doesn't cut it. In much of the world no "gigs" are even within reach, so consider yourself lucky to have more than one.
I know that you are an attorney. I remember attending the first class at Boston College Law with 50/50 gender parity. The policy of seeking gender and racial diversity in higher education was enacted as a result of student Boomer demonstrations in the 60s and 70s and Boomer legislation in the years that followed.
You complain of a "ravaged" environment. Check a little environmental history. If you want to see "ravaged," take a look at the smoky, grime ridden photos of the New York Skyline prior to the 1960s. Often buildings were barely visible through the smoke and smog. Boomers developed and implemented the technological innovations that enabled you and other "woke" Millennials to breathe clean air and complain about the environment.
Yes, we have a long way to go but maybe if your generation moves out of the basement of mom and dad's house and gets to work on some new technological solutions we will solve our current global warming challenge. Yelling at Donald Trump may feel good, but we need solutions and it's about time that your pampered generation stops posting rants on social media and gets to work. You might think about fighting to protect free speech on campus rather than restricting it to protect your snowflake ears. OK Millennial?
Ooh, that's a bit snarky. I doubt it will do much to bridge the divide. It makes me feel worse than I did this morning when I first heard about the #OkBoomer tag. But kids will be kids; we older folks will be . . . well, I guess older. I hate to be among the "bad" guys and gals who have, according to Millenials, ruined just about everything. Make that everything. There is a concerted effort afoot to kick us to the curb.
Where did the time go? One minute, we Boomers thought we had life by the balls. We believed we could change the world and, in many ways, we did. But then, as the years rolled by, many of the movers and shakers settled into the same lifestyle we had railed against. It's not unusual for me to catch my husband telling me that he'd never let his son or daughter wear those clothes or have so much freedom or think they know everything when, of course, they don't. I laugh and call him an "old man"--an old man who was once a long-haired art student who clashed with police outside of the Democratic convention in Chicago, posed nude for friends' photos, played his music too loud, and, generally, had little time for adults.
Here's my suggestion for all you Boomers who are insulted when labeled as "out of touch: grab your copy of Tune on, tune in, drop out and all the classic rock albums you have tucked away in your office closet or in a box in the basement. While you're at it, gather up your memorabilia from Woodstock or the Women's Strike for Equality or your bellbottoms and tie-dyed shirts. Place all such goodies in front of the next Millennial who sends the "OkBoomer" message in response to something you say or do. If they still think you're not worth more than a few keyboard characters, give then an "OkMillennial."