Tik Tok was the birthplace of the latest dead horse to be beat. Teenagers are the target demographic of the potentially problematic app, so naturally they’ve used it to joke about the things that are relevant to them. Their jokes at the expense of older people have bizarrely become relevant to the political climate.
Baby boomers, millennials and Gen Z are the competing age groups. Gen Z, or Zoomers, are mostly teenagers who originated the phrase “OK, Boomer” as a condescending response to older people saying something out-of-touch or hypocritical. Millennials have co-opted the meme for their own intergenerational resentment.
The differences between millennials and boomers are well documented, but the relevant bit of contention is political orientation. The more conservative boomers are more likely to align with the Republican party, in contrast to the more liberal millennials. Those political differences fuel much of the demand for “OK, Boomer” jokes.
Very-online, politically active millennials are trying to use the joke as a weapon. Taylor Lorenz, for the New York Times, claimed that the meme marked “the end of friendly generational relations.”
“A lot of them don’t believe in climate change or don’t believe people can get jobs with dyed hair,” said one teenager who is capitalizing on the trend with themed merchandise.
In an op-ed for the Guardian, Francine Prose questions that sort of justification and said that it seems “unjust to direct one’s anger at the average middle-class senior citizen struggling to survive on social security rather than raging at, let’s say, the Koch brothers, the Sacklers, the big banks, and the fossil-fuel lobbyists who have effectively dismantled the EPA.”
My own parents meet the age requirement to have the phrase directed toward them. They also acknowledge the existence of climate change and my mom jokes about dying her hair purple. Why should “the end of friendly generational relations” include them?
Because they’re just on the wrong team. It’s just another tribalistic way to cope with the political situation we live in. People suffer from forces outside of their control, so someone must be to blame. Why not baby boomers?
The truth is, baby boomers didn’t cause climate change or anything by themselves—and if they did, it wasn’t to spite us. We should stop acting like “OK, Boomer” is anything more than it is. It isn’t a movement. It isn’t advocating for anything, and it isn’t anything new. It’s just a joke, ok millennials?