During a political discussion in New Zealand’s Parliament, 25-year old Chloe Swarbrick retorted with “ok, boomer”, producing disgruntled response from the audience. Swarbrick was encouraging policymakers to take action on climate change and criticized past generations for their irresponsible business practices.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “ok boomer” around campus, in tweets, raps, and especially social media, but are you familiar with the implications of the remark? Or did you just hop on the bandwagon and start saying it to your parents whenever they lament about your grades or bad fashion sense? There’s more to the surface than what meets the eye—“ok boomer” is furthering generational divides but is somewhat appropriate in today’s heated climate, where older generations overly criticize young people for differences in opinion and deny their generation’s roles in modern day issues such as climate change.
Senior citizens sometimes feel the need to point out and critique “unorthodox” aspects of a young person’s life because they’re wary of change. Often times, people of the baby boomer generation have negative beliefs about premarital sex, climate change, tattoos, piercings, dyed hair, and other areas of life that young people find to be characteristics of individuality and uniqueness. What they fail to realize is that tattoos could serve as a tribute for a survivor of cancer, and pink hair could reflect experimentations with modern fashion tastes and self expression. Older generations seem to have a difficult time understanding the purpose behind these actions because those weren’t common during their youth. However, just because these things weren’t around when they were teens doesn’t mean they should be perceived negatively. Senior citizens seem to misunderstand how their generation’s customs are outdated with the youth of today.
According to the New York Times, Boomers often view people with dyed hair, multiple piercings or tattoos, or an “edgy” style cannot get jobs because they associate those things with gangs and criminals, perhaps because those practices were common with those groups when they were young. But things have changed—these days, tattoos, piercings, and dyed hair are a symbol of self expression, and it’s not right to judge people based on outdated beliefs. In addition, they also believe that being a part of the LGBTQ society is morally wrong, and that people in this group are “corrupted by the devil.” The older generation has a fear for change that leads them to develop irrational decisions. They don’t adjust or try to understand the point of views many of us share today. Despite the concrete statistics on climate change, many older people deny its existence.
On the other hand, it’s important to note that many young people also view the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s culture with some level of derision. We’re separated by a generational gap, so of course we’re going to have differences in values and preferences. It’s important to note that boomers are the older generation, so they’re definitely capable of giving us good advice. Take everything they say with a pinch of salt rather than being offended, and you won’t default to using“ok boomer,” a phrase that serves no purpose other than to further the generational gap between millennials and boomers.