If you’ve been on the internet recently, you’ve likely heard the phrase. Used by younger generations to mock or dismiss those older than them, “OK Boomer” has come under scrutiny by some as it has grown in popularity, especially on social media platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and others. While some defend the phrase as being a reaction to the arguably unfair conditions that the younger generations have inherited, others claim that it falsely blames and dismisses an entire age group.
Morro Bay High School (and schools in general) is in the somewhat unique position of having a variety of age groups interacting every day. As a result, the alleged “generational divide” that some claim that the phrase has created could be especially prominent on campus. When talking to several teachers who would, based on their age, be classified as ‘boomers,’ the general consensus was that the popularity of the phrase was neither entirely fair or surprising.
More specifically, Mr. Freeman stated that “the term itself…is just stereotyping in general.” Although he conceded that the Baby Boomer generation is part of “the greed…that has led to problems in the country, if not the world,” they are not the only ones to blame: “the people long before the Boomers…are responsible as well.” When asked about the comparison between “OK Boomer” and the common descriptions of millenials and Gen Z as entitled, or ‘snowflakes,’ Freeman took a neutral stance, saying that in both cases “it’s just name-calling.” Elaborating, he said that whether it’s the young dismissing the old or vice-versa, “it’s all wrong because we are dismissing a whole group of people.” Both generations have merit, he explained, so “those who stereotype need to just stop it and try to realize the value that each generation has.” Finally, he added that “as always, there are going to be idiots in both camps” who should be dismissed. As a result, we should realize that “there is value everywhere” so we should “take what we see as valuable…and leave the rest.”
Mrs. Van Dam brought a slightly different perspective. She said that she “completely understands” why ‘OK Boomer’ is being so widely used because she “sort of has that attitude.” Elaborating, she explained that “I am going to retire in a few years and you, my government class, will have to deal with all of these problems.” But, she added, “if all you do is blame then the problem is not going to get done.” In the end, she said, “every generation has inherited problems from the previous generation.”
Commenting on the supposed generational gap that “OK Boomer” has revealed, Van Dam shared that she has definitely noticed it in her classroom and beyond. “I had to pay for my college,” she said, but “everyone now thinks that college should be provided for them. We never even thought about that.” She thought that the change is that “people expect more” and that we have become “more…dependent [on our] government,” which she worried could be “a slippery slope.”
Of the students asked about their feelings on the phrase, all but one were familiar with it, with most having heard it both online and at school. One shared that he thought that “it is a little unfair because generations don’t really mean anything” but also that “it is…kind of accurate because when you were born does have an effect on how you were.” As for whether or not he thought that many modern problems were caused by the actions of “Boomers,” (a common defense of the ‘Ok Boomer’ phrase), he said that they “could be, but it is also our fault in a way.”
Another student shared that he “uses it all the time” but that he “just thinks its funny.” Furthermore, he said that he doesn’t necessarily limit the label of Boomer to just those who are legally “Baby Boomers” (people born between 1964 and 1945), and that instead someone of any age could be a boomer. He, like the other student, thought that the phrase was at its core just a meme and should not necessarily be taken as seriously as some take it.
Whether or not “Ok Boomer” will become a mainstay of conversation or will sink into the depths of forgotten memes is yet to be seen. From these interviews, it seems that Morro Bay History is not necessarily the generational warzone that those with strong feelings about the phrase might expect it to be. Instead, both students and teachers seem to decry stereotyping of age groups, at least in theory. The most pronounced difference between the views of teachers and students is how important they see ‘Ok Boomer’ as, with students seeming to feel that it is more of a joke or meme than something that warrants a serious discussion.