It is the story over generations—the older generation that cannot help lapsing into the “when I was your age…” line, and the younger generation with their hidden smirks and “here they go again” line. This year there are two words that sum up the feelings—OK Boomer!
Who or what are boomers? This is the name that was given to the generation that was born between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s. This was the period marked by a baby boom following World War II. In several parts of the world this generation also enjoyed higher incomes and standards of living as compared to their parents. It was a generation that also had some surplus from their hard earned income to spur a surge in consumerism.
Following the baby boomers was Gen X, the generation that was born in the period between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. Gen Xers as they were called sometimes called the “latchkey” generation, where both parents either worked, or children of single parents as more and more women joined the workforce. This generation was perceived by the boomers as being cynical, slackers and drifters.
Then came Gen Y, also called the millennials–a phrase used to generally describe a person who reached adulthood in the early 21st century, and covers the generation of people born between 1980 and 2000.
Now we have Gen Z the generation reaching adulthood in the second decade of the 21st century; in other words those born in the 2000s. A generation also described as iGeneration (iGen), Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives, and Plurals.
Today, we often have all the four generations in coexistence and interaction, each with their very distinct histories, experiences and perceptions about life and times. No surprise then that each generation perceives the other very differently, each one articulating the issues of the ‘generation gap’ in their own way. For Gen Z, anyone not in their teens are simply relics from the age of the dinosaurs. For the dinosaurs, the young twenty-somethings are a species apart. The war of opinions and words about the ‘appropriateness’ of attitudes are lifestyles is articulated by the elders in long lectures. But the new Gen needs only two words to sum up their take on this—OK Boomer! Younger people are calling older people (or anyone who disagrees with their beliefs or are deemed uncool) boomers.
The term “boomer” now represents older people from a different generation that just don’t get it, or anyone who disagrees with their beliefs, or are deemed uncool. A boomer is someone who is intolerant to new ideas and who is ignorant to new ideas.
The term originated as a meme on the social media platform TikTok, and gained popularity throughout 2019. The OK Boomer meme really started out as a fun, light-hearted joke,but soon became viral and was used generally in a humorous and ironic way to describe or dismiss out-of-touch or close-minded opinions associated with the baby boomer generation and older people.
So the next time someone from any Gen preceding Gen Z dares to express concern about the up-and-coming generation as inexperienced or naive, be prepared to have an “OK Boomer” coming at them. And remember that the OK isn’t an endorsement, but just the opposite that means Not OK! Till the next gen takes over!