Generation Z, the population born in the last 20 or so years, has responded to criticism from baby boomers born after World War II in recent weeks by repeatedly using the phrase “ok boomer” to silence condescending comments from the older age group.
Younger generations, including and especially millennials, have been deemed lazy and entitled by boomers because many are unable to find jobs or stable homes in the same way boomers did when they were the age millennials are now.
Gen Z has retaliated on social media, making jokes about the matter and using the phrase “ok boomer” to dismiss the older population, even selling merchandise sporting the phrase.
But boomers have taken offense to the phenomenon and essentially claimed a pseudo-minority status among the generations, pointing to repeated millennial and Gen Z jokes as proof of the ridicule.
Conservative radio host Bob Lonsberry even went so far as comparing the term to using the n-word. This is an obviously ridiculous statement that minimizes the black experience of abuse by way of the n-word by white supremacists throughout history and certainly does not represent the majority of boomers.
But it is an example of the stratified atmosphere that has made an issue such as generations so emotionally charged that someone feels justified in comparing it to a racial slur used to dehumanize slaves.
Letting this pass as a battle between the two groups on Twitter would be a disservice to boomers, millennials and Gen Z alike because of the tangible implications this debate is beginning to have on people’s lives.
Instead of addressing this as a generational issue, we must view the root of these differences that lie in employment to see inequity in salary and job benefits for younger people.
Generational divides create unnecessary animosity between groups whose only differences are out of either group’s control. Boomers did not intentionally cause harm to the generations that followed them, nor did millennials or Gen Z create this unfortunate pattern for themselves through laziness.
Feuds between generations were once as playful as they seemed, but generations now define individuals’ identities more than ever before and these conflicts have legitimate consequences that must be addressed.