Jordan: The generation gap is nothing new. Old people don’t understand kids these days and kids these days think old people are just out of touch.
It is always been like that, but now as generations, ed comes of age and looks around at the world, they’re supposed to inherit the usual generational divide doesn’t cover what they’re feeling.
News Clip: I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.
Jordan: And the baby boomer generation that you heard Gretta Tuneberg talking to didn’t really take kindly to it. And so some of them reacted the way older generations often have by telling the kids that they didn’t know what they were talking about, that they didn’t know how good they had it and that back in their day, and you get the idea.
And then the kids decided. That they were tired of arguing and thus was born. The phrase, okay, boomer, don’t worry if you don’t understand it yet. Just know it began as a song and as a meme and a series of videos on something called tick tock, and now this week it’s being used by young politicians when older colleagues try to interrupt them in the legislature.
News Clip: In the year 2050 I will be 56 years old right now. The average age of this 52nd parliament is 49 years old. Okay boomer, current political. And
Jordan: So how did, okay, boomer becomes so big so quickly. What is it about these two words that have managed to sum up an angry generational rift and what does it mean to those of us like me and probably you who are caught in the middle of these two?
Do we need to pick sides.
I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings and this is the big story. Catherine Singh is an assistant firstname.lastname@example.org. A site that covers all things millennial and younger. Hey Catherine. How’s it going?
Katherine: Good. Good. How are you?
Jordan: I’m doing well. Um, we called you in cause okay. Boomer is a thing and I don’t know what it is and it’s apparently becoming more of a thing every day.
What is that?
Katherine: Yeah, so, okay. Boomer is kind of a meme that’s gone viral recently. It’s actually been apparently on the radar since beginning of 2019 but it’s recently picked up and it’s pretty much a humorous or a flippant way to call out anyone who’s out of touch or maybe closed minded, and it tends to apply to the boomer generation.
Jordan: So give me an example.
Katherine: So an example would probably be maybe views around, say climate change was a big one that I saw and heard. Okay. Boomer, in relation to, so you might have to generalize boomers who say like, climate change isn’t a big issue, or, you know, maybe you should prioritize voting over climate change, different things like that.
And it seems to just be kind of a misunderstanding around. The topics that are important to gen Z. um, so someone who says, you know, climate changes in real or climate changes and important, and you say, okay, boomer, kind of in this context, it’s almost like, why would I listen to you? Look at where we are right now?
Jordan: Where did it come from?
Katherine: So I’m okay. Boomer originated on a little app called tick tock. So for people who aren’t really sure what it is, um, tick tock. Is an app. It’s a video app. So people go on and they create small lipstick, lip sinking videos or dance videos. Um, it’s fairly similar to vine, which is of another time like rap.
Jordan: We’re already old for remembering vine.
Katherine: Yeah, exactly. So it’s similar to vine. Um, it just runs on a loop and it leans really heavily into trends. So that means that often people are playing the same song and doing. I guess predetermined dance moves. Um, and then that kind of just trends and people go from there.
Jordan: So describe the okay. Boomer ones. Yeah.
Katherine: Yeah. The videos are really interesting. Um, it’s diverse range, cause I really think that, okay. Boomer, it’s kind of, I think you have to see it. To get it. If you get it, if you see it, you’ll just get it right away. Um, but a few of the different videos are related to, uh, social issues.
So we have climate change. They have videos related to, um, Worshan about having tattoos in the workplace. So typically what I saw when I was doing my extensive research was they would be somebody playing the role of a boomer as well as themselves. The gen Z. Person and it would have boomer droning on about something.
So say, you know, Oh, I’m surprised that you have your own business because tattoos will get you nowhere, or tattoos. No one likes to look at someone with tattoos. And then you would have the gen Z person, you know, successfully running their business in this video. And they’d say, okay, boomer.
And then they always have the song in the background.
Jordan: You told me that you had to actually do research to help describe what this is. Cause this thing is younger than both of us.
Katherine: Yeah, it really is. I honestly have never felt older than when I was doing
Jordan: Common phrase this week.
Katherine: Yeah. It really is.
Um, so yeah, I did have to do research because I, when I asked, I crowdsourced, not a lot of my friends had heard about it. Um,
Jordan: to be clear, you’re in your mid twenties.
Katherine: Yeah, I’m 26, though. I thought I was here. I thought I was young. I thought I was hip and young, but this has made me realize that.
There’s younger, so, um, it has, so, yeah. So I did, I crowdsourced friends. No one really knew. So I ended up having to text my 17 year old cousin, um, and asked her about it and you know, I was asking her questions and she directed me. She said like, the best resource for this is to go onto YouTube and watch compilations of these tick-tock videos, which as I was saying, is like.
I really don’t think that’s a resource, but it is. It is now, which I was also watching those videos and I was like, I cannot believe I am sitting here for 10 minutes watching a compilation of tech talk videos. But I was, and I mean, it was informative, but it was also kind of scary at the same time.
Jordan: I think one of the things that caught my eye about this was the reaction on the internet from some of the boomers themselves. Tell me about how it’s been taken.
Katherine: Yeah. So it’s not been taken well. Um, it’s just a pithy phrase. Yeah. It’s kind of, yeah, it is. It’s a good phrase and it’s short, but there’s a lot in it.
It’s obviously, you know, us trying to Wade through it and figure out what’s actually going on means there’s a lot kind of behind it, but it is, it’s just kind of a fun phrase. Um, but yeah, people do not seem to be taking it. Well, um, there was recently. I have conservative radio host, um, who compared OK boomer to saying the N word.
He said it was like the N word of ageism, which as I’m sure we all agree, that’s not the same thing at all. So, and I would hard disagree with that. So people aren’t taking it well, but the reaction actually serves kind of the point of, okay, boomer, because I think one of the criticisms that a lot of gen Z.
And millennials as well, maybe feel that come from older people is, you know, there’s criticisms that were like, quote unquote snowflakes, or we’re too sensitive about things. Right. Um, you know, with all the conversations we have. Going on around things like mental health and everything like that, like those words like snowflake and sensitivity and in your feelings, it gets thrown around a lot, but then the reaction from Buhner boomers to someone literally just saying, okay, boomer, kind of calling back what they are kind of reinforces their own criticism.
So I think it’s kind of perfect in that way.
Jordan: I want to ask you about generational divides in general. There’s always been a feeling from the youngest generation that the older people just don’t understand us. I want were into, and there’s probably always been a feeling from the older generation, like, ah, kids these days, right?
That they’re just, they’re not like they were in our day. Is this more divisive than we’ve seen? It feels really kind of angry to see it on the internet.
Katherine: I don’t know if it’s anger. I would say, I think. It seems it’s more people are just kind of fed up and in terms of the generational divide, I think that the reason maybe this seems so divisive or it seems like clearly cuts these generations is because it’s not just.
A mirror, like, you know, Oh, kids these days, or we don’t understand kids or vice versa. Um, it’s maybe similar, but it’s just in this context, I think that the stakes are a lot higher. So, you know, with issues of climate change, um, it’s not just climate change. It’s this mythical thing that we’re talking about anymore.
It has, we know it’s real. It has very real repercussions. And people who are. You know, after millennials, we know that this is going to have real effects on our lives. And same with cost of living. So I think it’s just, it’s just more clear cut, which generations have previously benefited from how things were before.
So that would be the boomers and who’s not going to be, who’s not going to benefit and who’s gonna really suffer because of the way things. I guess have been. Um, so I think in that respect, it’s just the stakes are higher. So that’s why people, maybe it comes across as angry, but I really feel like it’s just people are fed up and people know what’s at stake.
Um, they know what the issues are. They know that these issues are real. So anyone telling you, you know, that what you’re. What you’re experiencing or what you’re saying or what you believe in, you know, isn’t a valid concern. I think like I would be really fed up and I would be really, I guess pissed off meat, which maybe is a bit of anger, but I think it’s more people that are just kind of fed up.
Jordan: Is this a new front in the culture war?
Katherine: I think thinking of it as a culture war might be giving it too much.
Jordan: Yeah. What my next question was, is this just a meme that’s going to go away after a week?
Katherine: Yeah, I do think it will go away. Like, like anything, like any trend, I think it will go away, but I don’t think the feeling that people are having will go away.
If anything, this has been the perfect storm, I think to highlight. To the masses outside of talk, maybe what gen Z is feeling. And um, so now people can recognize that. So I don’t think that feeling will go away. And that maybe that a generational animosity isn’t gonna go away. If anything, I think this has just put a, I guess a name to it, but yeah, I th I think inevitably, you know, the, okay, boomer March will sell out.
People are gonna stop wanting to wear it. Something else will come along. But I don’t think that means that we should discount the feeling behind it.
Is there a way for these two generations to talk to one another? Because I’m an old millennial, you’re a very young millennial, and the relationship between millennials, older millennials and boomers, or gen X and boomers, doesn’t seem to be as fractious as okay boomer and the reactions to it have kind of shown the divide to exist between these two generations.
Yeah. I mean, you would hope that they’d be able to. Talk or I don’t know, come to maybe some sort of consensus, but I don’t really know if that’s possible. I mean, I think I’m a little bit bias in that I tend to align myself with gen Z in terms of my things that I find important and issues that I support or topics that I support.
Um, so I tend to align with them. But I think for me it’s hard because when I think of boomers, I think of. People on the upper echelons of my parents’ age, and I know that we disagree on a lot of things, and sometimes it’s just chalked up. To a difference in age and a difference in time, and I really don’t know how that can effectively be bridged between two gender collective, I guess generations, but advocating, I guess on the side of gen Z.
I would say that I think that maybe a lot of the generalized assumptions about gen Z are really unfair. I know one of the kinds of assumptions or generalizations is that that generation has a lot of ideas, but. They kind of have Peter pants and drummer. They have these flighty ideas that really don’t have any substance or they’re advocating for issues that really nothing can ever come to fruition that’s tangible.
But, uh, two summers ago at flare, we did a package that was titled the kids are all right, and it was all about gen Z and the change that students at Parkland were doing in the States. Um, and you know, issues around access to abortion and things like that. So. Like teens are actively doing things and they’re actively making change.
So I really think that we need to look at what they’re doing and take that into account and not just generalize, um, because they are actually getting things done.
Jordan: How did they become so active so young? Because again, not to sound like a super old person, but it wasn’t like that in my day.
Katherine: Yeah, no, I think that’s fair because it wasn’t like that.
Even, even when I was 18 or under 18 I was not as politically aware or near as active as any of these kids. Seem to be. So I really just think, again, it’s the time that we’re in. So like I said before, it’s just the stakes are higher and there’s more awareness now, I think, than when I was younger.
And maybe when you were younger as well about things like climate change or like incoming inequality and things like that. These like big issues that seemed so scary to me. Um, when I was young. There’s just more access to information about them. And I think we’re just talking about them as a whole, so it’s easier for these teens.
And then I also think that social media has really helped bridge that divide between teens and these big issues, or like feeling like they can actually do something about them, even if that’s something like tech talk, where you start with a video and then it picks up speed and it kind of make something of it.
So I think social media has really helped with that.
Jordan: It’s funny that we’re talking about teens being so activist and going out and getting things done, and then the phrase that they come up with to turn this back is just sort of dismissive. I’m going to try now to see it from the boomer side of things and say that for people who have been through a long life and experience lots of stuff, regardless of how they feel politically or whatever.
To be dismissed by somebody who’s less than 20 years old has to feel nasty.
Katherine: Oh, I can, yeah. I’m sure it feels horrible. And I think that that’s kind of the point of it. Um, you know, people, the older generation, and again, I’m generalizing, not everyone says this or thinks this, but stereotypically, I guess they say, you know, Oh, kids, you know, you have so much more to learn and you have, you haven’t experienced anything.
And I think. Like what okay. Boomers doing is really flipping that around and reflecting it back and being like, you know, you have a lot to learn. And also it sucks because you’ve had so many years, you know, to get it right and look at this garbage fire that we’re living in.
Jordan: In the past, someone who was 25 and someone who was 55 would not have lived in.
Such incredibly different worlds as someone who’s 55 versus 25 now, I mean 30 years now is several lifetimes in terms of the pace of change of technology and the environment and our political or geopolitical landscape, et cetera, et cetera. And can they just not understand each other because they don’t have anywhere near the same experience.
Katherine: And do you think that’s a fair assessment? Because even thinking, you know, 25 and 55 is, is a big gap or relatively a big gap. But I feel even between myself and my 17 year old cousin, so that might as well be a 30 year difference. And I think that is. Because of what you’re saying, just the pace of technology and everything is moving so rapidly that just our experiences and how we engage with the world around us is completely different.
Jordan: Are you more likely to say, okay, boomer, or have it said to you first?
Katherine: I honestly feel like someone will say it to me.
Jordan: Well, I’m expecting it like any minute now.
Katherine: So yeah, I think honestly, us as well sitting here. And talking about, okay. Boomer, when someone will listen to this and say, okay, boomer.
Jordan: Yup. Thanks Katherine.
Katherine: Thanks so much.
Jordan: That’s Katherine Singh from flare.com and that was the big story. If you’d like more, you know where to get them by now, thebigstorypodcast.ca. And you can find us on Twitter at @thebigstoryfpn we are not yet on Tik Tok. You can also find our podcast, this one, the other one I host called the gravy train out.
Now episode three and all the other podcasts that are a part of frequency at frequencypodcastnetwork.com and my favourite phrase, wherever you get podcasts, Claire Brassard, is the lead producer of the big story. Annalise Nielsen is our digital editor. Ryan Clarke and Stefanie Phillips are our associate producers.
And I’m Jordan Heath-Rawlings have a good weekend. Stay young at heart. We’ll talk Monday.
Back to top of page