The latest trend on social media is a linguistic insult. It’s “OK Boomer,” which, according to a variety of websites, is a phrase used by younger generations (milennials) to let the “older” generation know of their displeasure. Somehow, it’s also supposed to convey a disdain for capitalistic traits of the boomer generation.
As a proud boomer, myself, I feel compelled to defend us a little. First of all, I suspect that we are a generation that was/is motivated by money (i.e. long-term security). We have survived, or are experiencing, being a sandwich generation — taking care of young children and elder adults. We’ve seen firsthand how the lack of financial planning can negatively impact entire families. So, okay, we’re concerned about the economy and security. If that’s supposed to be insulting, then we badly missed the mark in teaching our youngers how to insult people. Let’s just say things like, “OK cutie” or “OK smarty.” Again, insulting tone, but not really insults!
Secondly, let me point out that those expensive phones that seem to be attached to palms, laptops, ipads, desktop computers, drones, video games, and all other expensive technology were likely paid for — wait for it — a boomer. We funded the development of these things and more often than not, put them in your hands with our hard-earned money. Capitalism, but shhh, don’t say that out loud.
Frankly, I’m a little sorry that we did all that. Our children and grandchildren missed out on some amazing experiences. Party lines, for one. They never, ever had to wait for Ernest or Ethel to get off the phone so that they could make a call. They never had the joy of one of the Swanson family picking up their receiver and barking into the middle of their conversation, “Get off the line!” And they never had the joy and satisfaction of hanging up on someone who’s making you frustrated. There really is a great way to handle rage that doesn’t involve name-calling, swearing, or violence. It’s just knowing that you gave a loud “click” to the person on the other end of the call.
Nor will they know the absolute joy of dining, bowling, or going to a movie with family or friends and not being interrupted by anyone else. You just get to spend quality time with people you really like, getting to know them better and making great memories. You never check your phone once. You never get a ring tone, or buzz, or chime. You just enjoy the moment.
That’s something we boomers gave the youngers that we shouldn’t have! At any rate, if the younger generation wants to say “OK Boomer” to me, I’m totally fine with that. Because the milennials I know are veterans, artists, nurses, meteorologists, lawyers, tech designers, teachers, doctors, and even one referee. They show up for holidays and family dinners. They love their pets. They care about our planet.
Insult me if you want, because I think we did a pretty good job, overall, raising them.
Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. Email her at email@example.com.