“Ok boomer”, the Gen Z meme and rallying cry which found its way into the wider discourse thanks to media coverage last week, has successfully irritated its target: boomers.
The retort began on TikTok (of course), spreading its way into high schools, YouTube comment sections, and finally, the New York Times.
“Teenagers use it to reply to cringey YouTube videos, Donald Trump tweets, and basically any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people – and the issues that matter to them,” wrote reporter Taylor Lorenz, pointing to issues such as climate change and a rising inequality as issues the younger generation feels the older ones aren’t doing anything about.
Since that report last week, the catchphrase has gone bonkers. Searches for “okay boomer” exploded. Reports on how teens have successfully monetised a catch phrase were published. It trended – and is still trending – on Twitter. “Ok boomer” is now the perfect way to reply to any moronic take you like, from this reporter digging his heels in over a dumb BTS article to Piers Morgan making a deeply unfunny gender joke.
Predictably, the meme – which is the same young vs old, millennial vs boomer war we’ve seen for decades, just dressed up in a new form – caused some boomers to take mortal offence. So distressed are they by some teens laughing in their general direction, they’re taking time out of their precious days to get mad about it.
1969: “Respect your elders”
2019: “OK boomer lol”
— ZUBY: (@ZubyMusic) November 2, 2019
Check out this hand-selected comments from the NT Times Facebook page, for starters. #NotAllBoomers for sure, but certainly a few of them.
This brings us to NY Post columnist Steve Cuozzo, whose regular gig is listed as “restaurant critic” but who seems to be really getting into “ragging on young people for a living”.
“Too many millennials whine that their complacent elders bequeathed them a rotten America and a rotten world — economic malaise that will leave them with lousier lives than their parents and a planet on fire from climate change,” Cuozzo writes, possibly forgetting that some millennials are now well into their late 30s.
“But if they spent more time studying actual history, which can’t easily be found on iPhones, they’d know that boomers were, and remain, the most socially and environmentally conscious generation America ever has ever known.”
Blame iPhones? Genius level take. It didn’t go down too well on Twitter, either.
Young people have every right to be concerned. Inequality is rising, job stability is falling, and it’s definitely someone’s fault the planet is growing warmer, but certainly not anyone born after the year 2000.
While old people are complaining about “ok boomer” (and count down in 3, 2, 1…. for it to hit the Australian commentator circuit), young people are making US $10,000 from “ok boomer” merch and are already sick of the non-Gen Zers using it.