If you’re mad about ‘ok boomer’, you’re probably part of the problem

Why Gen Z’s retort — and the responses to it — are so powerful

Kira Leigh
Nov 9, 2019 · 5 min read
If you have to say ‘the n-word’ you know it’s worse than ‘Boomer’, you moldy sentient banana.

After being told for years that millennials are killing more than 30 different things by not having money to spend on them, and that all the kids are lazy entitled garbage people, Gen Z is the one that’s actually firing back.

They’ve devised the only tactic that works on the specific subset of boomers that revel in being misinformed and outraged: dismissal.

‘ok boomer’ is the perfect honeypot trap.

The more you make it about you, the more you actually prove the retort’s point.

It separates those that get it (and are unbothered) from those that don’t (and are upset), in just two flat words.

It’s perfect.

And why you’re probably part of the problem if you just can’t let it go.

People don’t get that ‘ok boomer’ is about a specific trope, one that probably doesn’t apply to them.

In fact, it doesn’t apply to most people:

This specific type of persona that ‘ok boomer’ actually applies to holds political opinions that go against the best interests of future generations, and then they wonder why young people don’t trust their opinions.

Then they get mad about it.

They don’t get that Gen Z is going to be the first generation that has a lower quality of life than those prior, and then they wonder why Gen Z is mad at being told they’re incapable of adjusting to adulthood.

Then they double-down on Gen Z insults.

This is ‘ok boomer’s origin story. If someone replies to you with ‘ok boomer’, it could be a joke, or you could be behaving badly. The best way to know which is how irrationally angry you get over a whole 2 actual words with no pejorative connotations present.

They don’t get that taking on exorbitant student loan debt is a baseline job requirement— which was not one of their burdens in youth — and then they wonder why young folx dislike being told to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Then they scream about how lazy, entitled, and stupid kids are nowadays.

This all sounds like a terrible, overly exaggerated, and incredibly inaccurate stereotype, right?

That’s because it is.

‘Ok boomer’ isn’t a jab at every boomer, and it never was.

If none of this applies, ‘ok boomer’ won’t have you reaching astronomical levels of upset.

That’s the trap ‘ok boomer’ creates.

Boomer is not a slur, everybody.

‘Ok boomer’ is troll tactics 101. It taps into the simple psychological concept of the ‘ok kiddo’ dismissal, and results in creating ‘thou doth protest too much’ by way of holding no actual pejorative terminology.

It also banks on the idea that loud, misinformed people hate nothing more than being dismissed.

Therefore, they’ll yell louder when they’re hand-waived.

It’s psychology.

Here’s a simple example of how this works:

Steven has been yelling about avocado toast fans for years.

There’s no end to his insistence that these breakfast warriors are entitled whiny babies simply for liking avocado toast, and that they’re basically Hitler.

One day you post a Tweet about food.

Someone replies with ‘ok Steven’, perhaps showing they think you’re behaving like he does.

Do you:
A: Ignore it. I’m not like Steven, so I don’t have to prove them wrong. They’re probably misunderstanding me or they’re just joking.

B: Ask what they mean, I’m confused.
(very bold of you, but fair)

Or, do you:

C: Get mad about it. Avocado toast aficionados are disgusting! ‘Ok Steven’ is the n-word of foodies!!!

If you chose ‘c’, there’s your problem.

Overblown reactions prove ‘ok boomer’ hits the mark for the people it clearly applies to.

If you’re very upset about ‘ok boomer’, compared to the much larger and longer-lasting torrent of millennial and Gen Z dissing, and defend against something that doesn’t even apply to you, you prove its point.

That’s it.

That’s how the trap works.

That’s what all this means.

That’s what you aren’t getting.

And that’s why it works.

Gen Z’s ‘ok boomer’ isn’t about painting every single baby boomer with a broad brush.

It’s about what someone’s reaction truly says about them.

Thankfully, people like Professor Karl Moore do exist, aren’t taking the ‘ok boomer’ bait, and can analyze what’s going on from a nuanced viewpoint.

Now, I will be the first person on the front-lines to defend the solid boomers out there (I know plenty), and reinforce that generational stereotypes don’t hold water most of the time.

I truly think behavior boils down to value systems, not generational lines drawn in the proverbial sand.

But after years of dealing with ignorant media hit-pieces, the ‘lazy millennial stereotype’, and the vocal, unignorable presence of some boomers who refuse to engage in good faith…

I can’t help but feel proud of the Gen Z kids who coined the term.

Gen Z has achieved what us millennials never could.

They held up a mirror with just two words, and let it do its job.

The Raven Cycle Fanart, created by Aymmi. Thanks Sandra E. Friesen for finding the original artist!

I firmly believe the Gen Z kids are alright, what with their investment in politics and insistence on climate change as a key topic they need to tackle.

I also truly think that their brilliant entrepreneurial spirits are more underestimated than anyone realizes.

See, us long-winded folx take the time to try to write out articles like this, hoping it will teach someone something.

However, the people that most need to read articles like this, won’t.

Or, they only read the headlines, and write an outrage-comment, thus learning nothing at all.

Gen Z cracked the code that millennials have been struggling with forever.

Finally, a two-word phrase has done more than any amount of studies, any reasoning, any Medium article, or any news expose could:

It picked up a mirror, and simply reflected.

Then, it told the truth. No matter what it was.

Edited on 11/9/19 at 7:41pm:
I can’t make this any simpler to understand, but I want to, to avoid people actually being emotionally hurt by this:

Not all boomers. Never all boomers. That’s not the point.

Kira Leigh is a snarky marketing nerd, anime writer, and artist. See her work here and send her a message if you want to work together.

Special thanks to Renato P. dos Santos for his continued support.

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