Have you or your loved ones been hit with the "OK Boomer"? Are you unsure whether it's an insult, a complement, or simply a fashionable meme? Let's talk about exactly what "OK Boomer" means and where it came from.
Purely by definition, "Boomer" refers to a "baby boomer," which is simply a person born between about 1946 to 1964--according to Investopedia. Following World War II, a couple things happened:
Husbands and wives were reunited, so you can just imagine the birds and bees that came along. The population spiked as a result, which may or may not have been part of why you were born.
The economy likewise did well. This is relatively typical of the immediate aftermath of a war.
Add a strong economy with lots of babies and you get the term baby boom. Traditionally this term was simply a way to refer to a generation of people. It had no strong positive or negative connotation. It was just historical. That's changed now, however.
If you're a boomer reading this article, don't feel attacked, but you're sort of inadvertently exemplifying the meme. "OK Boomer" is both an insult and a meme. People on the internet use the word pejoratively to refer to older people (not necessarily baby boomers) who act like... well, older people. What sorts of actions might get someone hit with an "OK boomer"?
Looking up a seemingly self-explanatory internet meme that everyone else is already familiar with, well passed its prime (*cough*)
Saying something that comes across as racist without awareness that it does
Yelling something at the computer because it won't do something, not because there's actually a problem with the computer but because of a simple procedural error
Essentially, it's a dismissal on the part of a younger generation toward the idiosyncrasies of older generations. In other words, it's a simple manifestation of the ongoing fight between Gen X, Gen Z (Zoomers), and Boomers (or just anyone who exemplifies ideals of older generations). Is it ageist? It sure can be, but it stems from reactions to ageism as well. Namely, it stems from consistent attacks on millennials and Zoomers who've been dismissed as lazy, immature, and just overall weird.
If this fight has been going on for some time, then how is it such a popular internet meme now?
Origin of "OK Boomer"
Have you ever used Tik-Tok? We haven't either, but apparently it's the hip and happenin' place for young people to be. Well, a video posted to that platform in November 2019 gained over a half a billion views. In the video, an older man targeted the user with a diatribe that declared millennials and generation Z have "Peter Pan syndrome," i.e. they want to stay kids forever. The user simply holds up a notepad silently on which the words "OK Boomer" are written. That propelled it to infamy. Learn more about that here.
How Not to Get Hit with an "OK Boomer"
Now that it's a meme, pretty much anyone is at risk of being hit with an "OK Boomer" without warning. Nonetheless, the spirit of the meme is one of defense. The easiest way to not to get hit with an "OK Boomer" is to avoid generalizing a whole generation, ironically. If you generalize Zoomers or millenials or dismiss them as one way or another, they will return it in kind.
Again, this isn't a surefire way to avoid the term. Simply being on the internet or being yourself puts a target on your back. Hopefully, if someone says "OK Boomer" to you, it is in gest. It's just in the hopes that both of you will share a laugh over the differences between you. And because you both understand the term, it will bring you closer. However, if it's in defying the spirit of the term, and it's unprompted nastiness, then ignore it as you would anyone being a prick.
The truth of the matter is that all people, regardless of generation, can be rude or hostile. Just as all people can be kind. Whatever the case, it's important to not get carried away by our differences. Now that you know what the term "OK Boomer" is about, assuming you didn't already, you can treat it for what it is: both a meme and a defensive buffer between generations. You also know that there's no reason to get offended unless it's an unwarranted attack. Just remember: memes are most often jokes, and laughter is the best medicine. Be sure to check out our blog for more fun articles.