Be on the lookout, or rather keep your ears open, for anyone under 30 who might hit you with the phrase “OK Boomer.”
They are not calling you by a new, cute nickname. Also, they have absolutely no intention of considering your advice. They probably think what you just said is dumb.
“OK Boomer” is basically a dismissive phrase for statements made by someone older that are either completely out of touch or massively embellished. It is meant to target Baby Boomers, but the phrase has clearly skewed out of any relevant generational label and basically just means “OK old person.”
Let’s look at a few comments that would draw an “OK Boomer” response.
-When I was your age, we never canceled school with less than two feet of snow on the ground.
-You know, Facebook is taking ownership of all your photos if you don’t post this statement of opposition.
-You’re 23 years old. At your age I owned my own home.
I think “OK Boomer” is funny and I completely understand why it exists.
Let’s be honest, every other generation has been dumping on millennials like it’s a sport for several years now. Millennials get tagged with being lazy, soft and overly emotional about social issues. Older generations want to tell them how much harder things used to be and try to heap the wisdom of age upon them.
The truth is, every generation thinks it is better than the ones that come after it. They think they are tougher and know how to do things “the way they ought to be done.” They act like technological advances that make life easier should not be celebrated, but rather hissed at.
Are millennials softer? I guess so, if your measure of toughness revolves around manual labor and climate control.
Fewer millennials work with their hands because those jobs are less plentiful. They are thinkers, because the world values problem solvers. Millennials are forced to absorb knowledge at a rate far faster than I did. I went into kindergarten not knowing how to tie my shoes. Millennials had a working knowledge of the alphabet before entering kindergarten and immediately began learning to spell.
They have a physically easier life, because life is physically easier now. But the cost of that is a world where they are forced to shoulder massive emotional burdens. They are exposed to all the ills of the world with just a few keyboard clicks. Millennials can’t run into their rooms and lock the door to escape the problems of life. Their problems follow them everywhere.
They care greatly about social issues because the internet has exposed inequality and injustice that used to be hidden. You may want to label them snowflakes, but hippies sprang out of the 1960s.
We’ve been dumping on them for years and I think “OK Boomer” is a perfectly fine response. Sure, it’s dismissive, but let’s not act like they asked for most of the geezer knowledge thrust upon them. Basically, an older person will hit them with a generational insult and millennials are supposed to just nod. People are trying to label “OK Boomer” as an ageist insult, but I would argue that talking down to a young person is no different.
If you don’t want to hear “OK Boomer,” don’t evaluate a young person’s life to make yourself feel accomplished. Don’t boast about how hard things were in the good old days. Like Billy Joel said, the good old days weren’t always good.
Often there is not enough time to explain some of the disjointed logic behind elder wisdom. Better to drop an “OK Boomer” and go on about your day.
-Chad Williamson is the managing editor of the Journal-Tribune.
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