The latest craze filtering through the social media platforms of Gen Z is the ‘OK, Boomer’ phrase. Beginning on the popular short-video app Tik Tok, the phrase and what it embodies has taken hold of a generation. It is used to describe Gen Z’s response to the unwanted or perceived-to-be outdated advice of their older Baby Boomer counterparts.
Which generations are at play here?
The ‘OK, Boomer’ meme was invented by Generation Z, those currently aged between 10 and 24 years of age. People often attribute these sorts of memes or trends to the ‘young people of today’ – the ‘Millennials’.
However, Millennials more accurately refers to Gen Y – those born between the years of 1980-1994, and the oldest of whom will begin to hit their 40’s in 2020. This means they are not that far off the age some of the ‘OK, Boomer’ pejorative is aimed at.
Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) in 2020 will be aged 56 to 74. Some of the ‘OK, Boomer’ meme is actually aimed at the cohort younger than this (the Xers) in their 40’s and 50’s. Or more broadly, at anyone (of any age) who is out of touch with current issues.
Listen to Mark McCrindle weigh in on this topic on the ABC here.
Isn’t this sort of inter-generational warfare commonplace?
In no other area of diversity (cultural, gender etc) is stereotyping, grouping and dismissing with a single phrase acceptable.
The generation gap between the Boomers and their children (Gen Y) is small indeed with these generations sharing much through technology, music, popular culture and even the family home!
Boomers have actually been the most accommodating, supportive and financially endowing of their children’s generation than any other generation in living memory.
Relationships between generations warmer than ‘OK, Boomer’ depicts
Even though there are some negative perceptions held by the emerging generations of the older generations (and the reciprocal is also the case), the warmth across the generational divides is the most evident feature in generational analysis.
The sentiment of ‘OK, Boomer’; that the older generations are out of touch, wouldn’t understand, have had their time and are being hypocritical, is not supported by the evidence. The reality is that they are living longer, more active in the workplace and are staying actively involved with their children more than any previous generation. Also, they have adapted to more technology in their lifetime, been resilient across more economic and social cycles and responded to more change and trends than any prior generation.
An older generation disparaging the young, and the younger ones pushing back on the old is a timeless practice, usually done with warmth, and not new today.
As George Orwell wrote, “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
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