I am not a baby boomer. Not technically. All four of my older siblings are though, which I enjoy pointing out. I am just young enough to say “OK Boomer” to people who need to hear it, and am clearly old enough for people to say it to me.
Don’t know what “OK Boomer” means? Then you probably are one. Because I’m a good sport, I’ll clarify it. “OK Boomer” is a catchprase, sometimes a meme, that younger generations use to dismiss attitudes stereotypically attributed to the baby boomer generation. It is also an expression used toward an older person, say about my age, who just might not be as with it as he should be.
We used to call it the generation gap. Today, it is more often generically referred to as “ageism.” I don’t care for today’s whiny perspective much. I am, and always have been, a believer that older generations certainly have an obligation to teach, but they also have one to learn. And the “ism” part of this one is as snowflakey as just about anything.
2019 was the OK Boomer year. In 2020, it will likely continue.
Here’s a short list of exactly how.
1. Climate change. For those of you claiming that it is a hoax, OK Boomer. Seriously, who under the age of 55 actually still needs convinced that our planet’s climate is changing and human behavior is the reason? If you are the one, contact me and I will give you a smidgen of the evidence–assuming you have a truck to haul it away. Let the fantasy of this being someone else’s fault and responsibility to try and fix have it’s funeral in 2020, because trust me, this fantasy is dead.
2. Transit options are a waste. Indianapolis had a setback in the world of transit this week, when Blue Indy, the electric car rental service, announced it would discontinue service in the state capital. Resolving the use of its controversial parking spaces and charging stations will take a while to figure out. However, only a Boomer would use this failure to dissuade us from the next legitimate idea to find a more modern, efficient and sustainable way to move people. Our dependence on car ownership and driving our own cars everywhere we go is getting old. Sort of like fighting better transportation ideas is. Like it or not, Boomer, 2020 will only see growing support for new ideas here.
3. Your iPhone’s flashlight is on, Boomer. Admit it, nine out of ten times a person is spotted obliviously walking around with their flashlight on, it is someone born before 1980. Now, that includes me and my much younger wife, but I almost never see a young person doing this. I spotted a teenage girl on the sidewalk committing this faux pas yesterday. Saying “hey Boomer, your flashlight is on,” to her was a holiday treat for me.
4. Gun rules and laws will get stricter. That’s right, Boomer, America is turning a corner on this one. The school shooting generation has grown in number and age, their patience has shrunk, and younger people simply disagree with the thought that more guns make anyone safer. The National Rifle Association ironically seems like a wounded duck, and 2020 will continue this trend. Congress passed a spending bill which will finally fund the study of gun violence, and science will find that a different course is necessary. Science trumps propaganda every time, eventually.
5. Religion is struggling. Data is bringing bad news to all kinds of churches, temples and mosques: fewer and fewer Americans are active there. While this is a troubling sign for the spiritual health of our nation, only those who lack faith would be overly pessimistic about the future of our individual souls. Boomer, we need you on this one. We need you to encourage your religion to set a better example for the youngsters. No religion I know condones cruelty. The rift caused by the Christianity Today editorial last week is not the greatest recruitment tool.
Baby boomers are most commonly referred to as Americans who were born between 1946 and 1965. Thankfully, it does not include me (barely). Even if it did, I would find the group difficult to defend, as a group. Boomers really need to show more of an interest in tomorrow than yesterday.
But this really isn’t about that sharp definition though. It is more about the state of mind of older people who don’t understand new perspectives on a much longer list than I give you today. OK Boomer, does any of that sound familiar?
I am a Boomer (just barely.) I confess to this in order to improve my “cred” for these comments.
I agree with four of your “things” that deserve much more attention and acceptance by the Boomers. I disagree with the flashlight accusation, however. I just recently learned I had a flashlight on my IPhone, and I have not once left it on.
I would also add another “thing” to consider for 2020. It is time for all male Boomers to recognize that women make excellent and hardworking public officials. In 2020, more women will be elected to office, and eventually we will capture the Oval Office and the Governor’s office. More women means more attention to issues like Equal Pay, Child Care, Education and Access to Health Care. So, OK Boomers, get ready! Women will rule!
Michael I just discovered your site and loved reading this. As someone who believes shared laughter is medicinal, I LOVE laughing through generational gap bonding pains using all the mainstream generational jabs (this includes the entitled millennial stuff too. I call myself on it all the time.#TotesEntites. Should we start the hashtag #MEllennial? ?).
It’s interesting you bring up that point about church. I think about that all the time. I’m an Episcopalian, which is essentially a more broad stroked and liberal version of Catholicism (Robin Williams once said “Same religion, half the guilt”), and I grew up going to church every week. In my opinion (which, let’s face it, is inherently more important than YOURS, given my VIMillennial status) it’s a tough place for my church right now for two main reasons.
1. With the introduction of the internet, ”connecting” with others and even to some extent “communing” with them in literal “groups” is on apps at our fingertips, and has made it so we no longer HAVE to go to one place on the weekend to find what we perceive to be connection. Historically, I would argue that while the church service was the occasion, the REASON people went so much more in the past is because of the shared COMMUNITY (which, truly, Jesus would be completely cool with from my perspective). To learn about religion or create ones own spiritual practice, one only need use google, listen to podcasts, join a FB group, follow a hashtag or spiritual leaders social account, etc. This allows people to escape the judgmental stigma and rigidity that is often associated with “organized religion” (especially for #DontYouSELLToMe Gen Z, while were talking generations).
2. I know at least my church is caught in a field of dreams conundrum. You mentioned older generations setting an example, but at least from my own experience as MY church ages and experiences less and less young families in the “audience”, it increasingly caters to its demographic, which creates a false sense of what is true (often based on fear), which as you point out can ostracize the audience it seeks to attract more of.
So what do we do? Serve our congregation, or build a more inclusive program before its “justified”? On top of this challenge, as the church ages, the donors age. Our funds are now extremely limited because we’ve been fishing from the same pool for so long. It’s a tough sell to spend in unfamiliar territory where there is not yet a large need not only because of the nature of the decision itself, but because it is a true RISK. If we build it and they DONT come, what have we lost that would have better served our community?
I will say that my church did a great job of sending people out to interview all the members it could to understand their needs, but I’ll also say this was a great example of the gap/stereotype pains you referred to. In my interview, we talked about a Sunday Night service specifically marketed to parents with young kids, different young family gatherings, expansion and promotion of our Montessori Sunday school, and I volunteered my paid social/content marketing to help out.
Lots of nods and great brainstorming, no follow up. Literally not even a thank you note to recap. I found out later someone who had done marketing in a past career was “in charge” of our Facebook already, and it was implied that they didn’t want to offend that person by even letting them know I said I’d help. The assumptions there are rampant. Granted, with young children myself I’m not in a place to run a program (that IS a serious problem, because I can truly understand where a “you want it, YOU do it” mentality would come into play…I get it.)…but the fear of some “millennial” coming in and callously acting like they know better got in the way. I can also imagine my OWN assumption that, based the content, no one was in charge of it was also insulting, especially if someone was working hard on it.
Anyway. That’s all to say that I loved reading this. And that your use of OK boomer to that teenager with her flashlight was ?.