A cliché often preached to children and adolescents alike is to always “respect your elders,” for they have lived longer and, therefore, hold more wisdom.
However, if these same elders have doomed the ones they preach to, do they still deserve the respect future generations offer?
Tension between Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 to 1965) and Generation Z (those born between 1996 and 2010) has been growing. In the face of Gen Z’s anxieties surrounding massive student debt, catastrophic climate change and a desire for social reform, Gen Z is often dismissed by the Baby Boomers.
Boomers’ criticisms of Gen Z most likely stem from a lack of understanding of Gen Z’s culture. When comparing 2019 to the 1950s and 60s, the world is unrecognizable in all facets.
With PC (politically correct) culture becoming the norm and technology—specifically social media—playing a larger role in modern life, Boomers respond how they would with anything they do not understand: with aggression.
After being labeled “snowflakes,” “lazy” and “sensitive,” Gen Z has created a retort equivalent to an eyeroll: “OK, Boomer.”
The simple phrase is a sign of tiredness and exhaustion. “OK, Boomer” carries the mentality that if older generations are going to laugh in the face of the problems they have created, their comments mean nothing.
The largest Boomer offense is arguably climate change. In 1988, NASA scientist Dr. James E. Hansen warned the U.S. Senate of the potential danger of climate change.
After observing that global temperatures were warmer than any temperature recorded in the past 130 years, Hansen stated that the world’s increasing heat is a result of the greenhouse effect, and the effects of climate change may begin to alter humanity’s way of life.
Now, over 30 years later, carbon dioxide emissions have only continued to increase, as most politicians and businessmen have continued to ignore the climate crisis, even with fair warning.
Of course, there are exceptions, as California is one of the biggest proponents of working to cut down these emissions of greenhouse gases, but more change nationwide is still needed.
With the internet making it easier to become informed of various political issues, more and more Gen Zers are getting involved in politics and getting angry at the mistakes of the Boomers before them.
This newfound political involvement and independence is what the “OK, Boomer” statement symbolizes. The phrase is a response to the ignorance of those who will not listen, and it is a statement of disregard to those who will criticize but are not willing to assist.
“OK, Boomer” is not about age or disrespect. Rather, it is a statement of frustration with the current status quo—a statement that demands that those who will not change must step aside.