OK Boomer - A Slur?
Updated: Mar 7, 2020
Hah, gotcha. I haven't given up blogging just yet. And I'm back with an exciting entry about the cool new phrase that's sweeping the globe - "OK Boomer".
For anyone who may have missed it, the phrase found its origins on TikTok, as a sort of catch-all response to the often scornful and dismissive views held towards the younger generations, particularly on topics such as climate change, politics and...avocado toast.
The "boomer" part of the phrase comes from "Baby Boomer", which is the term attributed to those born in the years following the second world war, where the birth rate skyrocketed. Similar terms such as "Generation X", "Millennial" and "Generation Z" have been coined to describe subsequent generation.
The trouble I have with all of these terms is not necessarily the labels themselves, but rather the generalisation associated with them. I myself am a "millennial", having grown up around the turn of the millennium. This means that I can convert a document to PDF. I don't know how to wire a plug. I do tend to spend a lot of time on the internet, and probably don't read as many books as my grandparents did. However, not all of the stereotypes associated with this generation apply to myself. I've personally never had avocado on toast, I remember when a fortnight meant two weeks and not EPIC GAMER VICTORY ROYALE, and I know what a floppy disk is (it's the save icon right?!). Essentially, there are traits that may be more likely to be held by a certain generation of people, but they are absolutely not exclusive. To rely on these generalisations is inaccurate and I'm sure that no single individual holds all of the traits stereo-typically associated with their generation, which serves only to drive a wedge between generations.
According to these articles, Millennials are responsible for killing the razor industry, the diamond industry and Hooters. This kind of targeted outrage-inducing headline is powerful because if it resonates at all with you, you're likely to read it in agreement and become outraged at the youth that is so clearly responsible for tearing the world apart. And if you feel like you're being wrongly blamed for the subjects of these articles, then it's easy to feel aggravated at the writers of the articles, and those aforementioned folks who are judging you for the decline of the classy, world-renowned Hooters restaurant chain.
I suppose what I'm saying here is that there is a bigger picture to the "OK Boomer" phrase. This isn't the first step in the generational war that has been going on. Much of the youth are disgruntled and fed up with a lot of problems that they are dealing with that have arguably been caused by the actions of the generations before them. The economy. The environment. Important issues that are long-lasting and will impact their lives for years to come. "OK Boomer" is, in my eyes, a last-resort kind of response. It's used by a generation as a dismissive response to the dismissive attitudes that they feel they have been met with themselves.
So, is it a slur? Is it an offensive remark?
It's a tough question to answer. I suppose that if any phrase becomes widespread enough and enough people choose to take offense to it, it would, by definition, be an insulting phrase. But "boomer" is simply the label used to describe a generation, and it was coined by a baby boomer. Therefore, I don't believe that the term itself is inherently offensive.
Where it has been perhaps more legitimately causing offense is when it is being used towards people who aren't boomers, and is being used to immediately defuse and shut down any point that was being made.
The more important thing to take away from all of this is that you should try to listen to someone's point of view, even if you disagree with them. Shutting someone down with a catchy phrase might be funny and #bantz with your friends but it is ultimately driving an even larger wedge between people, further widening the abyssal "no man's land" of disagreement that we are finding ourselves in more and more today. Generalisation and perpetuation of stereotypes can be dangerous as it eliminates the identity of an individual - it automatically seeks to incorporate your point of view into a larger, invalid point of view that is held by a group of people that you have mentally "written off". The phrase "OK Boomer" may not be offensive in its nature, but it is certainly offensive in its greater context. It implies that boomers no longer have valid viewpoints, and that anyone who holds an opinion that you disagree with is automatically associated with this group. Having said that, the phrase was coined as a response to very similar attitudes directed towards the youth, so there is blame across the board here.
Woah, that got a bit serious didn't it? Join me next week, where I'll be I over-analysing the DEEZ NUTS meme.