“OK Boomer.” is the retort from Generation Z (now in their teens to mid-twenties), to Baby Boomers (in their 50s to 70s) “who just don’t get it”. Teenagers use it to reply to Boomers ranting about “snowflakes”; to climate-change deniers; to Donald Trump’s tweets; to basically “any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people and the issues that matter to them”. It’s “the digital equivalent of an eye-roll”, blasé but cutting, and it’s all over social media.
It started as a meme, but now “OK Boomer” merchandise is selling like hot cakes: phone cases, bed sheets, stickers, socks, shirts, posters, water bottles. Many regard it as the “perfect response” – not least because it offends Boomers, who themselves are always going on about how easily offended the young are these days. There is, though, a serious side to the phenomenon.
“Anti-Boomer sentiment” is genuinely on the up, fed by “rising inequality, unaffordable college tuition, political polarisation and the climate crisis”. “OK Boomer” is a jokey phrase, but also a symptom of real hostility. Does it mark “the end of friendly generational relations?” (Taylor Laurenz, New York Times & The Week, Nov 9, 2019).
My comment: I belong to the generation that preceded the baby boomers. We lived through World War 2, experiencing rationing, bombing, and fathers absent at war. No one had time, resources or inclination to spoil us. But the generation after this – the boomers – is another matter. They enjoyed the post- war boom, seemingly unable to grasp how they, as a generation, enjoyed the voyage but then shoved the younger generation back into the cold water – overpriced housing, no job security, often no pensions, and outrageously expensive further education – to name just four parts of the problem.
My personal sympathy is totally with the young. No wonder many are resentful and hostile! Maybe Covid will change things, but I’m not betting on it.