Maybe you’ve heard a phrase about our generation that’s going around right now: “OK, Boomer.” Maybe you’ve heard it, or seen it, or read about it, or if by now someone has put it on a perfume, smelled it. BoomerCafé contributor Erin O’Brien of Warwick, Rhode Island, has had enough of it because she doesn’t like the smell of it at all.
“OK, Boomer!” is a battlecry currently making its rounds on the Internet. As a columnist recently put it in The New York Times, “OK Boomer’ has become Generation Z’s endlessly repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it, a rallying cry for millions of fed up kids.”
Or as an 18-year-old Gen Z college student told the columnist, “Everybody in Gen Z is affected by the choices of the boomers, that they made and are still making. Those choices are hurting us and our future. Everyone in my generation can relate to that experience and we’re all really frustrated by it.” Mind you, she told the Times columnist that she’s cashing in on the slogan by selling it on everything from shirts to socks to greeting cards.
But fair or not, and profitable or not, the phrase makes me cringe. You can bet it wasn’t another baby boomer who came up with it.
So which one of you adolescent earbud-and-hoodie-wearing-Twitter-using twerps came up with this response to your elders and betters? Speaking for our baby boomer generation, I’ll quote the comedian Rodney Dangerfield who used to say, “I don’t get no respect.”
You younger generations want to sneer and sound off with “OK, Boomer?” I’ll remember it next time I’m at a restaurant and the Millennial waiter (born between 1980 and 1996) says to me, “Hi, my name is Jeremy, and I’m going to be taking care of you.” I don’t need to be taken care of. I just need you to put my food on the table. “OK, Millennial?”
Or the next time I’m at a store and thank the Centennial clerk (born 1997 or after) for her service and she says, “No problem,” as if her professional effort was minimal, or she was doing me some kind of favor by doing her job. What would be better would be, “You’re welcome,” because she’s paid to do what she did and it was her pleasure to be of service. “OK, Centennial?”
What else can I say besides, “Yes, I’m a baby boomer.”
You know, the generation that brought you the Internet.
But I digress.
Just who, exactly, first introduced the “OK, Boomer” phrase? The answer’s hard to come by— there are a bunch of urban legends about it already out there. But I highly suspect a Centennial.
After all, Centennials— also known as iGen, Generation Z, or Zoomers— have a voice, like we did, but they have the Internet, like we didn’t. Like us, they’re holding previous generations accountable for the state of their world. Like we did too.
To their credit, at least they’re clever in marketing. “OK, Boomer” merchandise is flying off the shelves of the Internet. You can see sweatshirts, stickers, and iPhone cases emblazoned with the phrase on high school campuses across the country.
I’m optimistic that the snarky slogan is merely a rejoinder to a perceived attitude— hopefully not used against an entire generation.
As baby boomers we said, “Question authority.” Older boomers in particular scolded their parents as “square.” Do Centennials trust anyone over 30? Apparently not.