The “Ok Boomer” meme has become a way for young people to mock the baby boomer generation. Photo from knowyourmeme.com
The phrase “Ok Boomer” has recently gone viral in all facets of popular culture and has amused the younger generation. However, some have warned that the phrase is not all fun and games.
As background, on Nov. 6, New Zealand representative Chlöe Swarbrick was giving a speech on climate change and when one of her colleagues heckled her, Swarbrick responded quickly with “Ok Boomer.”
The phrase, which started as a meme on the app TikTok, has since become a rallying cry from younger generations to respond to from Baby Boomers.
After the incident with Swarbrick and videos being posted on TikTok, many news sources reported on the usage of the phrase.
The phrase was cited by The New York Times as the end of friendly generational ties and by CNN as offensive and ageist.
Additionally, University of Rhode Island sociology professor Melanie Brasher shared her perspective on the topic.
“The very first thing that I think of is ageism, in general,” said Brasher. “It can go both ways, under this idea of ‘let’s just stereotype everyone who’s a certain age.’ We talked about this in my class [on the sociology of aging], but ageism is the last socially acceptable preference to have. ‘Ok Boomer’ is still a little bit ageist but it is being used to bring people together.”
‘Ok Boomer’ has been cited as nothing more than dismissive and ageist towards older generations. However, others have argued that it is a response to older generations labeling younger generations as lazy and unmotivated. Furthermore, others have argued that the term Boomer addresses more of a mindset rather than it does a generation.
Brasher said much of the issue could come from a lack of communication between generations.
Many people of all ages have taken to social media to react to the phrase. #OkBoomer has been a trend in the past few weeks.
On Twitter, @selenalarson said “People getting more upset over the “OK, Boomer” catchphrase than the climate emergency or human rights violations is how you know the meme is perfect.”
However, many Baby Boomers have not taken the phrase lightly.
On Twitter, @BobLonsberry, a conservative radio host, tweeted “‘Boomer’ is the n-word of ageism. Being hip and flip does not make bigotry ok, nor is a derisive epithet acceptable because it is new.”
Though some are using ‘Ok Boomer’ as a way to rebel and rally behind a cause, many people think that “Ok Boomer” is nothing more than a funny meme. One of these people is URI freshman Emma Green.
“I really hope it’s just a meme,” Green said. “It’s just a funny way of saying older people don’t understand what the kids are doing these days.”