“OK, Boomer” Is Hurting Our Generation


Yes, I know the first reaction after reading the title is to think to yourself, “OK, boomer,” but please hear me out. For those five people on the entire planet who haven’t heard yet, “OK, boomer” is a meme where, after boomers tell something to a younger person, the younger person dismisses them by condescendingly saying, “OK, boomer.” This has become such a phenomenon that the New York Times, the Washington Post and a professor here at Mason have written about it.

This dismissal of an older generation is not entirely unwarranted. Who among us hasn’t heard some crusty old fart grumble about how cell phones and video games are the reason why you’re a failure in life? Or perhaps you’ve heard some batty boomer babble about how back in their day, kids like you were smarter. Although it’s true there are some failures of the younger generations, there are failures in every generation, and the frustration at being pigeon-holed as a failure is extremely grating.

There certainly are many condescending or out-of-touch boomers, but dismissing them will only kneecap our generation and doom us to repeat their mistakes. By dismissing an entire generation by its failures, aren’t we guilty of the same things we are accusing them of?

Most students of history know this really is not anything new. It’s natural for younger generations to rebel against the older ones. But the problem is there seems to be no striving to break the cycle. Rather than acknowledge the mistakes of the past and praise our elders for their successes, we’ve decided to power on through life without their help.

Yes, there is an endless list of crises which have befallen humanity under the boomers’ watch, and the clean-up is now our responsibility. But it is completely counterproductive to meme away our potential mentors, teachers and guides — especially since the boomers had their own successes. During their time, the power of the USSR was broken, a treatment for AIDS was discovered and they (ironically) invented the cell phone and internet, just to name a few.

It is a fallacy to assume that because the boomers caused many modern problems, they do not have potential solutions, or at least advice on what we should not be doing. That is not to say their words should be taken as gospel. No advisor should have that much power, but no leader should be without advisors.

If we young people are to lead the world — and we will — it is senseless to do so alone. How can we ignore the bad choices of the previous generations unless we first learn from them? Let’s take the good things of the boomer generation, and leave behind the bad. If we are to surpass the boomers, we must learn from them. Otherwise we are doomed to either repeat their failures or become far worse.