Have you found yourself tired of young people’s complaining about the current social atmosphere? Do you struggle to understand the millennial obsession with avocado toast? Are you a member of the generation born between 1946 and 1964? Ok, boomer.
Perhaps more likely, given the youth of our audience as a university newspaper, you are the one who has had these words on your lips or your screen, using the phrase “Ok, boomer,” to dismiss the statements of an older cohort. Undoubtedly you have seen it strewn across social media in response to criticism and insults towards “young people these days”. But you may not have considered the implications that this viral trend carries, or the deeper social division that it belies.
“Ok, boomer” is a symptom of widening generational rift in opinions and values. On many current issues like environmentalism, economy, and employment to name but a few, young people feel ignored. We are sick of waiting for those in power to make appreciable changes; this textual equivalent of an eye roll signifies that their time is up. Instead, we are finding our feet and voices to force change ourselves. Last month, the Herald covered the mobilization of young people in the millions as part of the Global Climate Strike, calling for immediate action on the climate crisis. In this issue, we see many other examples of corruption that have contributed to distrust in the older generations, who have been calling the shots. From Boeing’s corner-cutting profit-seeking that cost lives, to Coca-Cola’s dismissal of its environmental impact, and even the Chilean government’s disregard for citizen welfare, the bigwigs with all the power have proven time and time again that they have no morals.
Those currently coming of age no longer want to waste their energy arguing with the older generations, to instead apply their efforts to meaningful causes. “Ok, boomer” acts as a tongue-in-cheek pacifier for both the pensioners who post petty complaints on Facebook and the sexist hecklers of international forums alike. Indeed, I realize that I have employed this same sentiment for more than a decade, at least internally, when listening to my grandparents spout ignorant and often racist remarks. In Korea, on the other hand, treating elders with respect is deeply culturally entrenched — so perhaps “Ok, boomer” doesn’t hold the same feeling here. Nevertheless, a growing dissatisfaction and distance between generations can be observed all over the world.
Ironically, this very same attitude was taken by the boomers themselves in the 1960s and ’70s, as they turned their backs on war and their own parents’ generation. Maybe it is the inevitable condition of youth to reject the ideas of those before you. Do we tend to write off all opinions of older generations without ample consideration? Perhaps so. But it is undeniable that those in positions of power during the previous decades have created the unstable situations we see today. However, to prevent the deepening of this divide, the young must not close down all intergenerational dialogue. We cannot be so naïve as to believe experience counts for nothing. But even more critically, the old must realize that the future does not belong to them. Ok, boomers?