Calling All Generations
Several months ago while sitting around the supper table, the youngest in our family blurted out what sounded like an innocent question: “What does ‘OK, boomer’ mean?” Everyone looked at one another bewildered, not even sure if we heard his question accurately. Then my middle daughter, who’s twenty-three, began to explain. Eventually I came to understand. “Boomer” refers to the Baby Boom generation, and “OK” is a dismissive, quick brush-off. Where did my eight-year old stepson hear this retort? On the internet, of course—TikTok to be precise. If you are unfamiliar with TikTok, I’ll save that education for another column.
Over the next few weeks, I ran across articles in national publications on generational conflicts. From what I’ve gathered, such battles are waged when members of two or more generations are pitted against each other because of differences in collective views on cultural and social ideals and political and economic interests.
“OK, boomer,” says the Washington Post, is “a jab from the young to the old, a collective eye roll at the out-of-touch judgments baby boomers pass on the tastes, values, and lived experiences of millennials and Gen Zers.”
My daughter, a millennial, said people she knows in the younger generations blame boomers for 2020 social concerns like the environment and immigration. Why? Before 2019, there were more boomers than any other living adult Americans, in many years far more. As a result, boomers have had a great deal of power in the marketplace, the workplace, and in the voting booth. Today, when young people see problems, they take aim at the boomers. Their eye rolls at the group born between the end of World War II and 1965 result in conflicts and phrases like “OK, boomer.” As power shifts to younger people, boomers have less influence.
But out of respect for my parents and the many great achievements of boomers I admire, I object to “OK, boomer.” It’s unchristian. I also object to boomers criticizing millennials and the young Generation Z. The Church, Pope Francis said, is supposed to be the place “where the different generations are called to share God’s plan.” Rather than debate which group is better, let’s talk to each other—at the supper table, at church, in schools. All of us deserve respect. All of us have something to offer. All of us are children of God. And all of us should act that way. All generations.