Apparently there is a new insult for people of a certain age. When an adult over 55 says something you don’t want to bother refuting, the response is, “OK, Boomer”.
How do I know it’s over 55? Because I was born in the last acknowledged year of the Baby Boom and I know how old I am. My year isn’t even always listed as part of the Boom, sometimes I’m as much as 5 years into Generation X. I describe myself as raised to be a Boomer but functionally Genex. Because that’s the world I lived in.
Anyway, “OK, Boomer” is getting a lot of press because, surprise, surprise, Boomers don’t like it.
Don’t they remember “dirty thirty”? “Don’t trust anyone over thirty”? Well, that’s them now. “OK, Boomer” is just the latest incarnation of that.
Foamy the Squirrel did a pretty good riff on this, pointing out that Boomers were 60’s flower children who protested the Viet Nam war and tried to change the government. Find it here.
Young people have always struggled against the older generation, the establishment. We need them to bring new ideas and innovation to the otherwise stagnant culture. And they need us older folks to bring wisdom and knowledge to the table.
I think it’s like my struggle in my relationship with my daughter. She is 23 now, and she has her own life. We’re pretty close, especially compared to her friends and their parents. I still want to mother her, but she doesn’t need that any more, she needs more of a mentor. So I am learning a new role and it’s hard and sometimes I don’t do it well.
Boomers — and a significant part of Genex — need to learn a new role. We need to start stepping back and letting the young people have their day. And it’s okay to do that! They are the future, they need to create the world they want. We’ve had our turn, it’s their time now.
But we need to guide them. We need to teach them history, full history, so they know where they come from. It’s like the irony of Sesame Street, a public television show designed to help inner city and underprivileged kids learn basics so they wouldn’t be behind when they got to school, which is now available on HBO, a pay service that many underprivileged kids can’t access. Without knowing the history of Sesame Street, this is a move that doesn’t seem to matter.
I get that kids are tired of explaining things to adults. I also get that adults are upset about being dismissed the way they want to dismiss young people. And really, Millennials aren’t that young any more! They are 22 to 37 years old. They are out of college and have careers and families, and they feel like they aren’t making it. Boomer lifestyle doesn’t work for them. The world has changed.
If there’s one thing Boomers should understand, it’s idealism and the desire for change. Sure, they have “sold out” and settled into a comfortable middle age. They continue to defy stereotypes while creating a new one.
It’s time for generations to communicate with each other. Voting is one way to do that. Polite discourse is another. Being open to each other’s truth and sharing stories would work. Boomers will need to learn a new way to tell stories, but Milliennials need to practice old ways of listening. The old ways are not better, but they are full of knowledge and wisdom that need to be accessed.
So, OK Boomer, but also OK Millennial.
Take your respective heads out of your asses and learn from each other.
Stop being so sensitive and try on the other side’s perspective.