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Title: The real meaning of ‘OK Boomer’
Source: Spiked
URL Source: https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/ ... the-real-meaning-of-ok-boomer/
Published: Nov 13, 2019
Author: Jennie Bristow
Post Date: 2019-11-14 01:19:42 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 1768
Comments: 63

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Over the past few weeks, the ‘OK Boomer’ meme has gone viral, leading to an offline epidemic of earnest commentary. The whippersnappers of ‘Generation Z’ have taken to TikTok – a social-media platform that seems to be about sharing chill-ironic lip-synching video-selfies – with a flurry of music, artwork, and follow-on merch responding to criticisms of the youth of today with the admonition that older generations should STFU.

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Being of the generation that grew up with VHS, audio tapes and landlines, I don’t really get the TikTok thing. It’s cute and funny when my kids use it, and even ‘OK Boomer’ has its moments of mirth. One viral example is a video of white-haired man in a baseball cap and polo shirt droning on that, ‘The millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don’t ever want to grow up’, and a studious young woman deftly designing a sign in response that reads ‘OK Boomer’.

So far, fair enough. The only thing more annoying than young adults blaming their parents for everything is the idea that kids have a responsibility to socialise themselves. Peter Pan syndrome among millenials is the product of a culture that is persistently infantilising young people, hobbling their opportunities to develop independence and blunting their aspiration to grow up. From infancy, today’s kids are trained to regard every slight or criticism as a threat to their own – or somebody else’s – mental health or self-esteem. Young children are discouraged from playing outside without adult supervision. Older adolescents are schooled in the importance of seeking professional support for all the emotional difficulties and life transitions that come with growing up. It is not surprising that they react against being labelled as ‘snowflakes’ by the very society that has instructed them in this way of thinking and being. OK Boomer, indeed.

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If only we could leave it at that. Unfortunately, this silly meme has been bounced into mainstream political and media debate to provide yet another opportunity for self-righteous claims that older generations have stolen their children’s future. Politicians, commentators and campaigners are relentlessly transmitting the message that adults have messed up the world for their kids. ‘OK Boomer’ deftly captures the sentiment that everything adults say is not worthy of debate, only summary dismissal.

As such, the meme merely follows a script that has been played out in a range of present-day political dramas – including those around climate change, the Brexit vote, and the election of Donald Trump – to shut up those whose values, attitudes and priorities are seen to represent ‘the past’. It is a script routinely deployed by people of all ages, who are so wedded to the rightness of their own cause that they arrogantly appropriate the voice of ‘future generations’ to put their claims beyond debate.

That is the spirit in which Chlöe Swarbrick, a 25-year-old MP for New Zealand’s Green Party, said ‘OK Boomer’ in a parliamentary debate about climate change last week. It wasn’t a joke, she explained in the Guardian:

‘My “OK boomer” comment in parliament was off-the-cuff, albeit symbolic of the collective exhaustion of multiple generations set to inherit ever-amplifying problems in an ever-diminishing window of time. It was a response – as is par-for-course – to a barrage of heckling in a parliamentary chamber that at present turns far too many regular folks off from engaging in politics.’

Leaving aside the question of what Swarbrick might mean by ‘regular folk’ – presumably, right-thinking graduates – it is worth noting the speed with which a silly meme has been filled with such deep meaning.

Proclaiming that the meme marks ‘the end of friendly generational relations’, the New York Times reports that: ‘Now it’s war: Gen Z has finally snapped over climate change and financial inequality.’ The teenagers currently milking the ‘OK Boomer’ meme – in some cases, for money – are elevated to the status of prophets, engaged in ‘their own little form of protest against a system they feel is rigged’.

Eighteen-year-old college student Nina Kasman is flogging the slogan on a range of single-use tat – from stickers and socks to water bottles and notebooks. She told the NYT that she was driven to producing OK Boomer merch ‘because there’s not a lot that I can personally do to reduce the price of college… which was much cheaper for older generations who then made it more expensive’. From there, she extrapolates:

‘There’s not much I can personally do to restore the environment, which was harmed due to the corporate greed of older generations. There’s not much I can personally do to undo political corruption, or fix congress so it’s not mostly old white men boomers who don’t represent the majority of generations.’

Frustration with ‘the system’ is channelled not towards political action but into making a quick buck. These young entrepreneurs seem impervious to the contradictions within their arguments, to say the least.

Twenty-year-old college student Jonathan Williams is credited with writing and producing the ‘anthem’ of the OK Boomer ‘movement’. The song ‘goes out to all the 65-plus crowd on SoundCloud’ and is peppered with the refrain ‘old ladies suck’. But it’s not really aimed at old people, the NYT assures us:

‘In the end, “Boomer” is just a state of mind. Mr Williams said anyone can be a boomer – with the right attitude. “You don’t like change, you don’t understand new things especially related to technology, you don’t understand equality”, he said. “Being a boomer is just having that attitude, it can apply to whoever is bitter toward change.”’

Swarbrick has also used this argument that ‘Boomer is a state of mind’. This, apparently, lets self-styled generation warriors off the hook: they have nothing against old people, so long as they agree with young people! And if not all young people parrot the same script about stolen futures and impending doom – which they don’t – they can be dismissed as Boomers, too.

All of which shows that, at the end of the day, this debate has very little to do with actual generational differences. As I argue in my book, Stop Mugging Grandma, the ‘generation war’ that supposedly defines our times is not about a clash between young and old. Instead, it masks disagreements over politics, values and ideas about the future. It has the character of an unseemly fancy-dress competition, in which claims-makers compete to see who can appear most like the twentysomething ‘voice of the future’, thereby appropriating the hopes and fears of young people, and using them for their own ends.

The generation war is a proxy, lip-synched conflict, in which the more young people are talked about, the less they are actually listened to. (1 image)

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Begin Trace Mode for Comment # 15.

#4. To: Deckard (#0)

Bring it snowflake.

rustynail  posted on  2019-11-14   10:03:21 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: (#4)

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land

And don't criticize what you can't understand

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command

Your old road is rapidly aging

Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin' - Dylan

Vicomte13  posted on  2019-11-14   10:34:46 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: Vicomte13 (#5) (Edited)

I saw Dylan live a few years ago (Mark Knopfler was the opening act... and who I really wanted to see)

Ol' Bob was just beating the crap out of that grand piano they turned him loose on - and repeatedly, completely, out of sync with the rest of the band.

Bass player kept trying to gently nudge him back on time.. but Dylan was either too shytefaced or deaf to get a clue. Or maybe he just didn't care.

Sad.

Wasn't much of a Dylan fan before that, and was even less of a fan afterwards.

Clearly a legend in his own mind though - and as much of a Judas Goat / Pied Piper as Joooooohny Caaaaaash.

Judas Goat  posted on  2019-11-19   12:01:51 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


#10. To: Peromischievous leucopus (#9)

Clearly a legend in his own mind though - and as much of a Judas Goat / Pied Piper as Joooooohny Caaaaaash.

I liked Johnny Cash. Not sure why either is a Judas Goat - haven't seen any slaughterhouses for humans around lately.

Vicomte13  posted on  2019-11-19   17:03:22 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


#11. To: Vicomte13 (#10)

haven't seen any slaughterhouses for humans around lately

In the context of 1.2+ billion years of binary sexual natural selection, 100 years ago is "lately" enough.

Judas Goat  posted on  2019-11-19   20:43:22 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


#13. To: Peromischievous leucopus (#11)

100 years is too long ago. The cohort of people responsible for the show and still alive begins in around 1930. There are a some people older than that, but they hold no power anymore. There hasn't been slavery or Indian wars since 1930, or 1900 for that matter, in the USA, unless one wishes to call prisons "slavery" or "slaughterhouses". But that's a bit hyperbolic.

Vicomte13  posted on  2019-11-20   10:37:47 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


#15. To: Vicomte13 (#13)

100 years is too long ago.

100 years is nothing in the context of human nature and its evolution; and that nature hasn't changed at all since then.

Judas Goat  posted on  2019-11-20   11:00:05 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


Replies to Comment # 15.

#18. To: Peromischievous leucopus (#15)

100 years is nothing in the context of human nature and its evolution; and that nature hasn't changed at all since then.

It's everything in terms of human lives though, and bearing responsibility.

I'm not responsible for what people did 500 years ago. There are folks around here who try to hang the guilt of what some evil Popes did 500 years ago because I'm a Catholic. That's idiotic.

On the other hand, the bad treatment of certain groups of people by the government in my lifetime, that left them with overhanging damage that we can fix - I am partly responsible for THAT, especially if I refuse to address it.

Vicomte13  posted on  2019-11-20 11:14:39 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


End Trace Mode for Comment # 15.

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