Ok Boomer has been floating around the internet since 2015, but in 2019 it has reached an entirely new level of popularity amongst Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X internet users. It’s not hard to understand the appeal of this phrase – it’s a short, spicy way of shutting down anyone online or otherwise who spouts narrow minded views we consider relics of the past. However, I’m pretty sure that the comeback itself is in fact an extension of that dusty old school narrow mindedness we’re trying to transcend in 2019. Here are five reasons why we should leave ‘ok Boomer’ in 2019.
1. It’s Ageist
This one is pretty obvious but it’s worth pointing out. Using someone’s generation as the object of ridicule is stereotyping. Whilst ageism might not seem harmful in joke form, it normalises ageist speech and thought. Given the way we have witnessed other harmful movements rise in popularity through joke culture such as the Alt Right (New White Supremacy) through memes, do we really want to do the same with ageism?
2. It’s Criticizing the Wrong Group of People
Whilst it is true that many (maybe even most) of the problems the world is facing right now are the result of decisions made by members of the boomer generation, it’s not really the generation that defines this group of people. In my opinion, it is the wealthy and the powerful who make outdated laws, enable climate denialists to flourish and continue to marginalize minorities. If we wanted to be accurate, the phrase should be ‘ok billionaire’.
3. It’s Hypocritical
Ironically, ‘ok Boomer’ first found its feet in response to a video where an older man declared that Millennials and Gen Z had Peter Pan Syndrome and never wanted to grow up. Needless to say, invoking a negative stereotype about one generation in response to an equally negative stereotype about another means that users of ‘ok Boomer’ are essentially engaging in the same narrow minded behavior they are trying to call out.
4. It Alienates
It’s unsurprising that much of the backlash towards this phrase has come from the Boomer generation. The jaded Millenial/Gen Zer/Gen Xer might say that they are using the phrase as a comeback from being called a ‘Millennial Snowflake’ and that Boomers should be able to take it as good as they give it. However, what older people really need is solidarity. Whilst the Boomer generation is typically characterised as prosperous, there are many older people who are in precarious financial positions that leave them vulnerable to other issues such as homelessness and elder abuse. For example, here in Australia, women over the age of 55 are the fastest growing cohort of homeless, increasing by 31% between 2011 and 2016 (Australian Human Right Commission). Our older generations are being left behind and widening the generational divide only adds to the problem.
5. We can do better
My last point is not so much an argument as a plea. ‘ok Boomer’ might be an easy way for younger generations to vent our frustrations and fears, but ultimately it does nothing for the world problems we will have to continue to confront and fight against long after the last member of the Boomer Generation is gone. To be successful in this, I believe our generation needs to stop pointing fingers and start looking critically at the flawed systems and power structures that have put us here in the first place. Derogatory phrases like ‘ok Boomer’ belong to the same outdated mindset that has brought us so many of the problems we face in 2019. We cannot afford to subscribe to this way of thinking if we are to succeed in solving them.