If you’ve been on the internet at all lately, you may have seen the phrase “OK Boomer” appear somewhere on social media, hoodies, or even in the form of a song. If so, you have witnessed the latest meme trend. “Ok Boomer” managed to tear two generations apart in a matter of weeks. Yes, it’s a meme, but it could be more than that.
In case you didn’t know, “Ok Boomer” adresses baby boomers: people who were born between 1946 and 1964. The meme originally was a simple clapback to call people old. Due to similarly trendy memes on serious topics such as climate change, the economy, and the faults of today’s society, people are starting to put the blame on baby boomers specifically.
You ever hear an old person start a conversation topic with “back in my day…” and proceed to make fun of younger generations? “Ok boomer” was meant to be a quick and effective response. However, people are now viewing the phrase as a ‘slur’ and a sense of hostility has emerged between the young and old because of this phrase.
An example of this would be the claim that practically exploded on the internet; Bob Lonsberry calling the phrase “the n-word of ageism.” Whether or not that assumption may be accurate, the reaction generated by both sides of this catchy phrase could be simplified to hostile. The phrase is now a mix between a humorous snapback and controversial hate speech.
Now the question arises: Is this meme really the cause of separating two entire age groups, or is it simply a way to express feelings that were already there?
Let’s go into the context of how “Ok Boomer” is used. In memes recently, Boomers are addressed as people who ruined the economy and environment, and who left the younger generations to deal with it. “Boomer memes,” those vintage comics that talk about cell phone obsessive teens and “lazy” millennials, are now just being made fun of, and fuel for ridicule.
The time period and context of this meme eventually changed the purpose of this meme.
From an ironic, meaningless phrase to the catalyst of how the youth feels about the world in its current state.
The meme served as a way to spread these feelings across almost a global scale. These feelings generated two different reactions: Those who are for and those who are against. Of course, those who are against it are the same people “Ok Boomer” is directed towards.
This is merely an example of how well memes can separate two groups of people. A meme proposes an idea, and makes a joke about it. But when that idea is controversial, there will be more than one response to it.
From there, these responses evolve into different sides of one argument. In this case, the Youth Vs. The Old on who’s causing the world’s problems. All it took was these two words to spark the fire, “Ok Boomer.”