Is the term boomer derogatory?
How okay is "Okay Boomer"?
Anyone who has children of their own knows it all too well. Different generations keep coming into conflict with one another. When fundamentally different views collide, the doors slam and bad words are spoken. Often, both parties lack mutual understanding and the willingness to put themselves in each other's thoughts. But such conflicts do not only take place within your own four walls and with the family. They have become an integral part of public debates, in which older and younger generations fight each other instead of pulling together and finding common solutions. The older generations clearly include the so-called baby boomers, or boomers for short. For some time now, young people have been responding to their comments with the slogan “OK, Bommer”. But what exactly does “OK, Boomer” actually mean and why is the older generation so affected by the phrase?
What are boomers?
Baby boomers, or boomers for short, are people who were born during a time when the birth rate is particularly high. This was particularly the case after World War II. When the economy picked up again and people were looking confidently towards a hopefully better future, many of them decided to have children. There was a so-called baby boom. Today's boomers in Germany are roughly born between 1955 and 1965. In other countries, these years of birth can be slightly different because the baby boom did not start at the same time everywhere due to different post-war consequences. The end of the baby boom heralded the introduction of the birth control pill as a contraceptive, which is also known as the pill break. So by boomer we mean a whole generation. The term boomer is also used for individuals or groups of people of this generation.
How old are baby boomers today?
Today's baby boomers in Germany are between 55 and 65 years old. Some are already grandparents, others are still raising their own offspring. Some of the boomers are already close to retirement, while those born later are still a long way from thinking about quitting and continuing their careers. Although they did not grow up with the technical advances that our young people today know, they are usually open to them. Especially the singles among the boomers like to register with one or the other dating site in order to search for a partner. But also for professional reasons they cannot do without dealing with topics such as the Internet, social networks, digital media or various computer programs. Because one thing is clear to them: Baby boomers are still a long way from being old.
Reasons for conflicts between boomers and younger generations
There are numerous reasons that can lead to conflicts between older and younger generations. In the private sphere, these are often different views on work, family, dealing with money or topics such as friendships, partnerships and the search for a partner. In the public eye, points of contention are often areas that affect politics, the economy, education or, for example, environmental protection. Due to their considerable number, boomers have a great influence on socially relevant issues, not least as electorates, but also as holders of important positions in politics and business. Younger generations are annoyed when boomers accuse them of being lazy, undisciplined and wasting their time on unimportant things. On the other hand, young people accuse boomers of resisting innovations, stubbornly sticking to long-outdated values and argue that boomers are jointly responsible for today's grievances that affect the climate and our environment. The origin of some conflicts, however, certainly also lies in the prejudices that different generations have towards their older or younger fellow human beings. So there will probably always be individual people who put other people in a certain drawer because of their age and assume certain behaviors that are supposedly typical for this generation.
Where do the differences between the generations come from?
Every generation is shaped by the time in which it grows up. Political and economic events, but also demographic change or cultural peculiarities that prevail during childhood and adolescence, influence the way a generation thinks and behaves. Boomers were born and raised in times of a booming economy and have a strong connection to the world of work. You have no understanding of frequent job changes or gaps in your résumé. The younger generations see it completely differently. You want to try out yourself, discover the world and gain many different experiences. With regard to technical advances, boomers have experienced a completely different character than their successor generations. They are challenged to keep pace with the ever increasing pace of new developments and are often ridiculed by the younger ones if they do not always succeed in doing so without any problems. Different living conditions lead to different values. So it is not surprising that people of different generations can have very different views.
That's how relaxed baby boomers really are
Baby boomers are narrow-minded and old-fashioned in the eyes of younger generations. Boomers are far more relaxed in many areas than is often assumed. For example, when looking for a partner, many singles among the boomers naturally use a dating site. That alone shows that the older generation is curious and open-minded and that even the singles among them do not want to lead a lonely and boring life. The fact that today many older couples are still getting divorced because they realize that they do not want to spend their retirement years at the side of their long-term partner proves: Boomers are courageous and face the challenge of getting off to a flying start even at an advanced age. Last but not least, the good medical care, the global network and the diverse opportunities to travel, learn new things or make their free time attractive, give boomers the necessary momentum to be able to keep up with younger generations in a variety of ways.
What does “OK, Boomer” mean?
“OK, Boomer” is a saying that is used in response to statements or opinions of older generations. Most of them are members of the baby boomer generation whose opinion is to be devalued or ridiculed with the phrase “OK, Boomer”. Users of the words “OK, boomers” are mostly people who belong to younger generations and who want to distance themselves from the boomer's point of view. They often find the statements of boomers to be outdated or narrow-minded. But it also often happens that the statements made by boomers are perceived by younger generations as condescending; namely when boomers try to put a stamp on them because of their young age. Basically, "OK, Boomer" means something like: "Boomer, your opinion doesn't count."
Where does the term “OK, Boomer” come from?
The phrase “OK, Boomer” has become a real trend in 2019 and has become a so-called meme through its dissemination over the Internet. The term “OK, Boomer” probably got its fame mainly through the video platform TikTok. Here users had commented on the post of a man who had made derogatory comments about the younger generations with “OK, Boomer”. In November 2019, a young politician in New Zealand also used the statement “OK, Boomer” to respond to an interjection from an older MP who said he had to interrupt her during her speech on a climate protection debate. The exact origin of "OK, Boomer" is difficult to understand. The term has appeared sporadically on the Internet in previous years.
When the statement “OK, Boomer” is used
Younger generation often answer boomers with “OK, Boomers” if they feel annoyed by their statements. This happens particularly often when the older generation feels as if they know everything better or complains about the behavior or the way of thinking of younger people.
This is why millennials or members of generations X, Y and Z answer the following sayings with "OK, boomer":
• Young people today no longer know what respect means.
• Everything was different in the past.
• As long as you put your feet under my table, you have to do what I tell you.
• We worked hard for our money.
• Look at how you walk around with your tattoos, piercings and torn clothes.
• You have no idea.
• No pain no gain!
• When I was your age ...
• You have it way too good.
Young people see a further incentive to counter with “OK, Boomer” when the older generation expresses themselves disparagingly about their worries and needs or downplays their importance.
This is why the older generation is so affected by "OK, Boomer"
Baby boomers often see their opinion of the younger generations confirmed by the phrase “OK, boomers”. From their point of view, they clearly lack respect for older people. At the same time, the term “OK, Boomer” annoys her because it does not allow for the possibility of communicating at eye level. Their views are swept under the table as wrong, unimportant or simply out of date. The saying “OK, Boomer” is therefore not suitable for resolving conflicts between different generations. Rather, it additionally fuels it by helping to further harden the different points of view. It is therefore important to consider whether and when it actually seems appropriate to comment on a statement with “OK, Boomer”. Because “OK, Boomer” does not allow for a clarifying discussion, but rather resembles an abrupt break in an exchange of views. Here, all generations - the younger as well as the older - are required to treat one another with a little more respect and to approach one another with a greater degree of tolerance.
So boomers can deal with "OK, boomers" more calmly
Boomers understandably feel affected by the statement “OK, boomers”. If an older member of our society is confronted with the comment “OK, Boomer” based on his statement or attitude, he or she initially reacts angry and upset. But with a little forbearance and self-reflection, any boomer can try to show some understanding for his younger fellow human beings. Just think back to your own youth. How often have you rolled your eyes yourself because of what your parents or grandparents said? Only at that time it was not customary to start a discussion with an elderly person, as the definition of respect and decency at the time did not allow it. The fact is: times are changing and the world is constantly changing. No generation grows up under the same conditions as the next. Therefore, boomers should also try to be open to younger people and to admit that other values are important to them. After all, the living conditions have changed in the last few decades and with them the view that the elderly are always right and that one should not contradict them.
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