The old and young are feuding — yet again. Oh bother.
“OK boomer” is a clapback for the rising Generation Z to call out older adults on their collective lack of inaction on climate change, (overall) resistance to progressive policies, and for the condescending tone older people tend to widely use when describing the “kids these days.” It’s also a concise way for younger generations to express displeasure with those who shaped the world into what it has become. It’s dismissiveness seems to be getting under the skin of many older internet users; in particular, conservative radio host Bob Lonsberry,having called it the “N- word of ageism” in a now deleted tweet.
The definition of the clever phrase reads more as “go ahead and just keeping thinking your backwards, irrelevant thoughts that we’re just spoiled, tech-obsessed children when you’ve wrecked our job prospects, housing market, and planet” more than anything. Topics such as environmental responsibility have been proven to unleash the schoolyard bully in some people. But, that’s none of my business. Rising inequality, unaffordable housing, political polarization (assisted by the internet), and the climate crisis all add fuel to the fire that is anti-boomer opinion.
But, now, Generation Z has responded with two words: “OK boomer.” They’re right to be angry about coming of age in a world made ugly by selfish choices. It’s the perfect response because it is equal parts unimpressed but cutting. Good satire is supposed to prompt reflection on privilege and bring light to the unsaid. This phrase is the digital equivalent of an eye roll, if you will.
On Twitter, the entire episode reads more like an Onion article—complete unintelligent nonsense—rather than serious cultural debate. Take the comments of Disney heiress Abigail Disney, who (in a blunt Twitter thread) essentially told her fellow boomers to “let history do what history does best: move on.”
Those who were born in the wake of World War II enjoyed better job markets, had lower costs of living, and faced no serious consequences for burning through fossil fuels like there was no tomorrow. Well, tomorrow has arrived. “It’s not like you’ve done such a great job with the time you have had,” said Disney, citing pollution and social injustices.
It’s safe to assume this is an immortal aspect of human society: Young people always exist, and older people will always complain about them. In this increasingly divided era, it seems unlikely either side will wave the white flag anytime soon— even in the face of mutual frustration.