Culture

“OK Boomer” Is A Devastating Way To Call Out Old People’s Entitled Bullshit

If there's one thing boomers hate, it's being belittled.

Ok boomer

Boomers are the generation that have had it all. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want more.

In fact, the entire boomer mindset is one of maximalism. This is a generation that grew up in a time of unrivalled economic prosperity. Your average boomer could enter the housing market without breaking a sweat, attend university for free, and did not have to contend with the daily threat of total environmental, social, and economic collapse.

Theirs has been a life of freedom. Their parents’ generation died young enough that they could take the reins of political power off them without too much of a struggle, and they haven’t let go of that power since. In most countries around the world, they make up the majority of the voting block. And they will die a long, long time before the consequences of their actions kill off most of life on the planet.

So what does a boomer bad dream even look like? Well, the answer, apparently, is young people being mean to them.

No matter that boomers feasted on the surplus of human innovation, only to send the entire planet into a tailspin with their greed and short-sightedness. They reckon they should be impervious to criticism.

There is nothing that a boomer finds more irritating than being told that they had things good.

In fact, if there are any boomers still reading this, they will already be preparing the rude things that they’re going to call me in the comments section — #millennialmoaner, probably. These people seek criticism out, and then let it make them very, very angry. Never mind that the planet is on fire. The real crime is that young people are using their phones to say mean things about a generation that haven’t experienced a tough day in their collective lives.

Which is precisely why “ok boomer” is the perfect way to insult them.

What Is “Ok Boomer?”…

“Ok boomer” is one of the cutting put-downs that generation Z specialises in — file it alongside “silence, brand”, the go-to insult when a corporation is trying to be cute on Twitter. Typically, it’s fired off when some boomer is trying to rail against young people: attempting to call them out for their reliance on technology, or the things they do in a desperate desire to stop the planet from incinerating itself.

The catchphrase has slowly been spreading across the internet over the last few months. In fact, as boomers have already nervously begun to report, it’s even been monetized, with the phrase appearing on jackets and merch.

But the saying has really been shot into the stratosphere over the last few days thanks to an article by Taylor Lorenz inΒ The New York Times titledΒ “β€˜OK Boomer’ Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations.”Β In the article, Lorenz reads the memeification of the phrase as a new volley in an all-out inter-generational war. According to her, young people are sick of being lectured — and they won’t just stop with a few cutting words on the internet.

…And Why Does It Make Boomers So Damn Mad?

Of course, young people insulting their elders isn’t new. Boomers kicked against the past in their own way, although that mostly involved memorizing the brain-dribble of evangelical old farts like Bob Dylan. Hating the generation that brought you into being is a part of the human condition, a gnawing urge to blow up the past that has driven all innovation since the dawn of time.

But “ok boomer” is notable in being quite so effective. Boomers cannot stand it. For all their lecturing about how thin-skinned the younger generation has become, merely being referred to by the moniker that has been theirs for decades is enough to have them blowing up into a red-faced fit and crying elder abuse.

Why? Not because the phrase insults them. But because it belittles them.

Boomers like to get angry about criticism. They seek it out. Sure, they also argue with it, but they’re more obsessive with poring over their bad reviews than younger generations are. And that’s because they need to feel important. Being hated makes you special in the same way that being loved does.

That’s why “ok boomer” works. It doesn’t denigrate them. It dismisses them entirely. It makes them sound boring, and predictable, and thoroughly unimportant. And what’s more antithetical to a generation that have sat directly at the centre of the universe for three decades than that?


Joseph Earp is a staff writer at Junkee. He has met one or two boomers that he doesn’t mind over the years. He tweets @Joseph_O_Earp.