'OK Boomer' highlights generational divide, but doesn't target all older people

Hadas Kuznits
November 11, 2019 - 11:16 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A phrase popularized by Internet memes and explained in a recent New York Times article highlights the generational divide between Baby Boomers and Millennials. 

Young people use "OK Boomer" as a dismissive retort to older people who say something condescending about the younger generation and the issues that matter to them, such as climate change and economic disparity.

But, after asking people about the phrase in Reading Terminal Market, the young people who use it say it's not necessarily directed to all members of the Boomer generation.

"Just people that are kind of not with the times," said 18-year-old Sam. "And if they say something crazy, you would say, 'OK Boomer.'"

He says the phrase is more of a response to people with a closed-minded world view: "The equality of genders and sexuality. It's just stuff like that."

Sam suggested the kind of comments that might elicit "OK Boomer."

"Like, 'Back in my day, there were only two genders,' or like, 'Back in my day, you know, we actually talked to each other in person.,'" he said.

Evan Thornburg says "OK Boomer" stems from different generational perspectives.

"It comes from this attitude that Millenials don't like to work. And then there's this attitude that Boomers have destroyed the economy, or destroyed these number of things, with their economic design," she said.

"Because I think for a long time, we've kind of accepted people over the age of 55 or 60 being in charge of our world. And I think with the onset of, like, real, potential threats in the next generation of things, like climate change, we need to stop defaulting to simply just this group to have the answers to our issues."

Sue from Florida, who recalls the hippie protests of the Vietnam War era, says this viewpoint of older generations is nothing new.

"I think they all need to have something to say about their generation," she said. "I think people get too offensive with too many things, and they're too opinionated with so many things that don't mean anything."

For the record, Sue may or may not be a Boomer. She said she doesn't take offense to "OK Boomer."

"I can't wait until someone says it to me, now," she said. "I'll be like, 'Boomer you too!'"

"It's a little bit of a clap-back, and I like it," said Chloe from New York.

Meanwhile, Albert from New Jersey, who's in that area between Millennial and Boomer known as Generation X, says he thinks "OK Boomer" creates more division.

"It doesn't expand the conversation," he said. "It sort of just ends it, and it's a 'Whatever.'"