There’s a communication divide happening that you may not be aware of and it has Boomers and Millennials at polar opposite positions. Communication is one of the most important life skills. If you want the desired outcome, you have to communicate well so that your message is heard and the goal is achieved, but Boomers and Millennials are struggling to understand each other.
The English language is constantly evolving. The most notable changes began happening in the 5th Century when introducing Germanic dialects of what we now call Old English. During the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries, the Vikings brought another wave of the Germanic language that became the basis for the various English dialects we speak today.
Funny, that words with endings “age” and “ence” like disengage and commence were added so long ago, but if we fast-forward to today are a source of misunderstanding.
New words work their way into use each year. Words commonly begin as slang, then become widely accepted, then used so frequently they get defined in the dictionary. It’s this constant evolution that leaves those who desire to speak properly, being labelled as unrelatable, basic, and showing up in memes everywhere.
If you’re older, and older is simply older than Gen Z, you may not realize certain words have become offensive. Those of the Baby Boomer generation may not even know that the younger generation is insulting them with the “OK Boomer” phrase.
Boomers show how outdated and irrelevant they are, but odds are, you don’t even know the evolution has happened. Gen Z sees you as part of the problem, unwilling to keep up with the times.
Hey, Boomer, in case you don’t know, OK isn’t okay anymore. Your desire to speak correctly has those in Gen Z, cringing and thinking you’re rude.
O.K. or K is rude. It is passive-aggressive, according to Millenials cited in The New York Times.
You may think “K” is being informal. Gen Z, says you’re in attack mode and yelling. Who are you to be stressed out? Gen Zers have their own personal problems.
- No need to yell, k?
- “kk” = OK
- “OK” and “K” = rude, yelling.
What is “Kk?” The first time I saw this response I thought my teenage daughter was being cute. She began texting it over the last year and no one else I text with was using it yet. It’s just a more proper form of “kk” because she has auto-correct on.
This “OK Boomer” slight by younger generations is offensive and it’s meant to be offensive. It’s an acknowledgement of those who have the power — ahem — money and influence.
Gen Z wants the influence and respect Boomers have, but so many of them aren’t willing to do hard work or offer respect to get it. Gen Z wants to replace Boomers who are still influential as talented young up-and-comers. Gen Z, if you want what they have it will do you well to understand them a little better instead of discounting them as basic.
“OK Boomer” gained a new wave of attention when Chloe Swarbrick, a 25-year-old woman used “OK Boomer” in response to a heckler while addressing Congress.
At first, I didn’t think much of the interaction. It isn’t clear what the heckler did. Maybe he booed her. But, if that’s all he did, is it worth her response?
There’s much more to think about here.
It Starts Earlier
“OK Boomer” actually started much earlier than Swarbrick. The term came into popularity in late 2019, via a TikTok video in response to an older man, but the earliest references to the term began more than a decade ago.
If you feel caught in the middle you are not alone. I am a Gen Xer and caught in the middle of Boomers, the people who worked hard to earn the money they have, and Gen Z, who wants respect, but doesn’t seem to want to work to earn it. If my children are examples of Gen Z, they come at me with their hand out. Give me money, pay for lessons, social engagements, and more. Pay me for existing in this life and let me disrespect you in the process.
But why does Gen Z feel so judged?
You feel judged because the generations that have come before you worked hard and know the meaning of work. You want to be paid, many times because you want something you haven’t earned. And, you can’t figure out why people call you entitled. Sheesh.
Look around, when you want something for nothing you are the very definition of entitled. Look up from your phone and give the TikTok videos and dances a break when in the company of others. Show some respect.
Gen Z wants to throw off the yoke of the Boomer generation and the Boomer generation wants to be respected for what it has earned. There’s a wide divide in the middle of these two groups. We are in the process of evolving. Understand that money comes from work. Show me some work and respect and I’ll show you some of the money I’ve worked so hard to earn.
A few new rules might help:
- Take out your headphones
- Make requests instead of demands
- Unplug occasionally
- Show respect
When you talk to me, take the Airpods out of your ears, and for goodness sake, don’t consider wearing them to work if you interact with other people or are in a service environment. Recently, my husband had his watchband resized and the young woman behind the counter couldn’t hear our conversation because she wouldn’t take the Airpods out of her ears. She was too busy listening to music. Entertainment should not be your primary focus while you are working.
If you don’t want to be judged, then show some respect and hard work.
May you then be granted the things you feel you already deserve. A little respect and hard work will go a long way to get Boomers to drop their judgment. We’ve got to meet somewhere closer to the middle and it's going to take both sides to look beyond themselves.
Who’s with me?