Think Gen Z is rude and addicted to technology? “Ok Boomer”

Since the beginning of time, in many civilizations, being respectful of older citizens has been a key part of the education of youth. Recently, the more experienced group of people have called into question whether this relationship is gone after the spread of a viral meme. The meme spawned from TikTok, a recent social media platform that has become very popular with younger generations, specifically Generation Z, (people born between 1996-2010). This meme is a response to someone who is older and is generally a part of the Baby Boomer generation, (born between 1946-1964), whenever they make a statement that is out of touch. These comments can be from just about anything—spanning from technology to politics to marriage.  With this, the phrase “Ok Boomer” was born. 

This is how the phrase works. After a Boomer makes an out-of-touch statement, a person from a younger generation responds with “Ok Boomer,” quickly discredit their statement in a sarcastic way. This response quickly transpired from an internet meme into normal-day conversation; it even the New Zealand Parliament, when a 25-year-old politician used it against her older coworker who insisted that Climate Change was not real. 

Gen Z has decided to throw the insults right back in the Baby Boomer’s faces, saying “Ok Boomer.””

While the reason for its rise was accredited to kids being fed up with the older generation’s views especially in this current political climate, it also could be due to how the Baby Boomers and Millennials, (born between 1981-1996), relationship has developed. It has unfolded in front of Generation Z, as Baby Boomers have criticized nearly everything that Millennials have done often calling them lazy, entitled, and addicted to their phones. This attack on Millennials has often gone uncontested as the Baby Boomers have poured insults down without much of a response.

With Millennials getting older, attention has now turned to Generation Z. Despite Generation Z getting a much better shake than Millennials, and even are said to have characteristics such as hardworking and pragmatic, criticism has started to come from older generations. This criticism has mostly come from comments regarding their reliance on technology. In response to this, Generation Z has taken a much different approach than Millennials as rather than letting it go and having stereotypes spiral out of control, Gen Z has decided to throw the insults right back in the Baby Boomer’s faces, saying “Ok Boomer.” Gen Z is not willing to wait like sitting ducks, with insults being hurled at them, but are instead sending a clear message they will not follow the path of the Millennials.

This has not come without controversy. Many Baby Boomers have claimed that the phrase is ageist as they believe that it is insulting and rude for members of Generation Z to respond this way. More radical thinkers such as when a radio host, Bob Lonsberry, from New York equated “Ok Boomer” to the n-word of ageism. This quickly, and obviously, backfired on him as there are clear differences between the two. On top of that, it played directly into Generation Z’s hands as Lonsberry’s response is exactly how a Baby Boomer is expected to respond; with an off-color reference that is socially insensitive.

Overall, “Ok Boomer” is a joke, an internet meme that has been completely misconstrued by Baby Boomers who instead of acknowledging what it is trying to say, have immediately claimed that it is ageist. However, the ironic part about it is that the ageism of Boomers is what started the trend in the first place. Their degradation of Millennials and criticism of Gen Z has culminated to this and it is their own fault. So if they are not okay with this, or still see this as equivalent to a slur, then there is only one response: “Ok Boomer.”