I said Boomer are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay, Boomer?
Honestly, I’m in love with this whole “Ok Boomer” thing. It’s perfect. As someone pointed out, nothing is more on brand than Millenials getting blamed for a saying created by Gen Z. The level of contempt and vitriol from Boomers about this phrase is astounding. Maybe it’s just a few vocally outraged twits on Twitter and online op-eds, but Ok Boomer really seems to have struck a nerve. I’m here for it. An infamous post compared the word “Boomer” to the “n-word”. Someone responded with just how important it is to hit the “hard R” in Boomer. Unfortunately for Boomers, Millenials are far more internet savvy, sassy and have endless years of salt built up. They’re rubbing it into the wound.
Why do I like “Ok Boomer” so much? It’s snappy and efficient. It takes so many layers and fits them into two succinct words. It’s cutting and sarcastic. It has an ideal amount of condescension and sadness rolled into a simple reply. It seems to incite reactions that are wholly incongruous for the mild insult that it is. It’s a perfect thing, and we have to appreciate it while it’s here.
Why does Ok Boomer work so well? Many many things. Part of it is this whole greatest generation nonsense. Not to downplay Boomer achievements, but the world was a markedly different place when Boomers came into adulthood. I’m sure life was still tough, but the rules made sense. My parents bought their original home for something like $25k. Even adjusting for inflation, that place would be well over a million now. It’s not commensurate. Without degrees, they managed to get jobs in companies where consistent hard work was enough to lead to promotions. These days, if you’re looking for a corporate job, your CV goes on a stack with 200+ others. That’s not an exaggeration. They get run through algorithms that search for buzzwords, and cull most people who were unfortunate not to use the right vocabulary. Then of course, nepotism puts a few people on top of others. A university degree is mandatory for almost any position, many of which require 2-5 years of experience for entry level positions. Boomers still lived in at a time where single income families were a reasonable expectation. These days, starting salaries are often $30k-$40k. I know here in Toronto, $45k is classified as a living wage, and you’d expect a double income at $45k to be almost reasonable for raising children on. Almost. The thing is, seeing as buying a home is not a realistic goal for this generation, we have to rent. But wages aren’t rising equivalent to rents. For an example, here’s this December 2018 Blog TO article placing an average one bedroom rental at $2,260. Try raising a family on $45k with that cost of living.
It’s not like Boomers are villains, but their young adulthood was entirely different. So they make a lot of well-meaning but misguided statements based on how things were for them. Things aren’t like that any more. The prosperity that was on tap for so long has dried up. It’s not like everything is a disaster these days, but when so much of your life is spent in crisis mode, it’s hard to focus on the positives. Things are exceedingly complicated. We live in a world of nuance that seems vastly different to that of yesteryear. Like, the 80s were 40 years ago. We now know what bullshit trickle down economics are, even if they seemed all the rage back then. We’re now economically, politically and socially disenfranchised. Things are way out of wack. Thisisfine.bmp is just life. We’re never gonna own houses. We’ll raise children with roommates, or be forced to live in corporate owned neighbourhoods/cities. We’ll grow in a surveillance state, where our actions are accounted for by the Five Eyes Network, while the laws are written by sociopathic businessmen who pay for privileges. The new normal.
We’re tired of being told about this bootstraps mentality, because in this corporate world bootstraps are a proprietary optional extra when buying boots. Pounding the pavement and dropping off CVs isn’t quite the affirming action it once was, because everything is run through an algorithmic filter and processed. Having a good handshake is secondary to having a spotless, connected Linkedin. We’re well aware that things were better in your day, and we don’t disagree. We’re just trying to do the best with what we have. It’s not that we’re lazy or entitled, it’s that the rules have changed and simple hard work is not enough. You have to work hard strategically, get lucky, or be connected. Many of my friends work several jobs to make ends meet, and that’s not irregular. I’d argue that this generation is doing remarkably well, considering the circumstances.
Really though, the reason I like Ok Boomer so much is that it’s the summation of turnabout is fair play. For years, Boomers have derided Millenials as lazy and entitled. They’re “killing” all the industries that Boomers set up, because those industries are unwieldy relics of prosperous times. Millenials have spent years continuously explaining why things aren’t the same for them as they were for their parents, which is often met by a condescending chuckle and a dismissive wave. Even the word “millenials” has been thrown around as a stereotype for a clueless generation who thinks everything is unfair, and refuses to put in any work to better themselves. It’s taking a myriad of concepts and boiling it down to a buzzword that denigrates without any analysis or understanding. It’s saying “you’ll understand when you’re older” to people who are already older than Boomers were when they procreated. Yet when they turn around and say “Ok Boomer”, suddenly it’s unfair to distil an entire generation into one dismissive catchphrase.