Posted January 7, 2020 by Mark Perna
Instead of widening the generational rift, let’s advance the conversation. Mark’s article, “OK, Boomer: This Is How To Respond To Gen Z’s New Meme,” published at Forbes.com on November 26, 2019.
If you’re the target of this new, headline-grabbing phrase, you’re supposedly out of touch—whether you’re a Baby Boomer or not. “OK, Boomer” is a verbal eye-roll that expresses derision, frustration, and a subversive compliance. And it says something important about the newest generation of Americans: they’re worried.
Generation-Z is worried about the future: their chances of economic success in a rapidly changing world, the exploding cost of higher education, environmental concerns, and societal injustices. Naturally, they see older generations as having a hand in creating or at least perpetuating these problems.
I’m a Boomer myself—and I’m proud of it. But that doesn’t mean my generation is perfect. We are the original “experience is everything” generation that pushed the boundaries of society. So why are we upset that today’s young people are doing the same thing? Isn’t it what we modeled?
If Boomers dismiss Gen-Z, then they’ll just follow suit. But if we choose to get past the “OK, Boomer” comeback, we’ll advance the conversation. Language is powerful. When we hear “OK, Boomer,” let’s check the urge to shoot back with “OK, Zoomer” and instead, do this:
Young people are concerned about the future and they want to make things better. They need to be heard instead of having their perspective—and entire generation—dismissed. Being intentional about listening, showing respect, and keeping the dialogue civil can mitigate the “OK, Boomer” comeback or at least help it become less of a knee-jerk reaction.
In other words, we can do better. OK?