Editorial: Okay, Boomer

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Editorial: Okay, Boomer

Center Grove students show off their distressed jeans.

Center Grove students show off their distressed jeans.

Center Grove students show off their distressed jeans.

Center Grove students show off their distressed jeans.

Meg White, Website Editor

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“Back in my day, we used to rip our jeans by working hard, not buying them like that.”

“Okay, boomer.”

*war*

In recent months, the phrase  “okay, boomer” has caused a massive rift between generations. The baby boomer generation finds the phrase extremely disrespectful while younger generations find it appropriate and funny. 

In order to explain this topic of boomers and Generation Z/millennial slang, I need to define a few things. For one, a “boomer” is not necessarily a person of a specific age or generation. In the context of the phrase “okay, boomer,” a “boomer” is a person whose antiquated ideas fail to reflect the modern political and social climate, a person who expresses unwarranted opinions in disrespectful ways in conversations to which they were not invited or a person who fits into a broad range of close-minded, ancient-valued people that stick so far in the past they are difficult to communicate with.

For example, I went to the bank the other day to order a new debit card. I walked in with a friend, and we stood behind a few people waiting for a teller. A man of about 60 turned to me –unprovoked–and said, “Maybe you’re here to get some money to buy yourself some new jeans.” Then he laughed. I smiled weakly, and turned to my friend and whispered, “Okay, boomer.” My jeans were ripped, yes, but that’s not my issue. My issue is that this man, a stranger, found himself so moved by a 17-year-old girl’s jeans that he turned and said something extremely disrespectful. If you struggle to find the problem with this incident, flip the situation. The man walks in, and I turn to him and say, “Maybe you’re here to get money to buy something from this decade.” Now I’m the jerk, right? 

See, the problem doesn’t come from differing opinions. It’s the disrespectful expressions of those opinions and unwarranted attacks on younger generations’ ways of life. When an older person expresses frustration with a younger person’s jeans, there a few issues: it’s an old narrative, it doesn’t help anything and it’s extremely disrespectful. 

Being a boomer is a mindset, not an age. Younger people can be boomers. They can butt into others’ conversations and offer disrespectful opinions, they can antagonize a person simply for living differently. On the other side of that same coin, a generational boomer can be lovely; he can be respectful and conservative at the same time, and he would not warrant an “okay, boomer” response. Having ideas that reflect your childhood, your upbringing and your generation’s culture is not an issue at all. In fact, these perspectives allow us to grow as a society. 

But every generation does things differently from the generations before them. The Rock n’ Roll generation got backlash. The “hippie” generation got backlash. Kids are sick of it. It’s more than just a joke about how times are changing. It’s articles like “Millennials are Killing ___” that unnecessarily criminalize a generation and generations after them for simply living life differently. There is a reason that the baby boomer generation doesn’t live life the way that people lived in 1890: times have changed. 

The “boomer” mindset creates the idea that it’s okay to make comments to complete strangers about how they live life. Under no circumstance is it okay to attack a stranger. Antagonizing a generation for being younger or older doesn’t make any sense. 

This brings us to the main issue: why millennials and Generation Z are saying “okay, boomer.” The phrase is used any time someone offers a hateful comment to another person based solely on a difference in lifestyle. Examples are as follows:

“You shouldn’t be on that phone so much. My generation didn’t have smartphones and we turned out fine.”

“Okay, boomer.”

“Millennials never have cash on them! It’s always on that phone or the credit card! They need to carry cash.”

“Okay, boomer.”

“I don’t understand why all these kids are so depressed. Just go outside, see nature. It’s probably because they’re on those dang phones.”

“Okay, boomer.”

This is where the problem lies: not differences in upbringing, not differences in ideas. It’s the notion that younger generations are “ruining the country” simply because they live the way that technology and the social climate have shaped them.

People that are open to innovation, change and the evolution of societies never hear “okay, boomer.” It’s the close-minded, hateful people that refuse to accept change who hear what is apparently a “generational slur.”

My final comment is this: times change. Generations find new technologies, and societies change as mindsets grow. Growth is good. Difference is not inherently wrong. Younger generations are not out to attack older ones. Societies have been changing since the inception of this planet; it’s human nature. Figure it out. Younger generations are doing the exact same things that older ones did. They’re living life, they’re pursuing happiness, they’re utilizing freedom. Just because the way they do it is different from how others did doesn’t make it wrong or bad, it makes it new. Either get with it or get over it.