Internet memes are often funny but can convey a serious message. They can be a useful way to break the ice to start a conversation, especially with young people (youth workers take notes).
However, sometimes they can become polarizing and can become a tool to harass and gang up on someone you disagree with. This can create an “us vs them” mentality.
This is what I think is happening with the “ok boomer” meme.
I myself am apart of the generation that has been “lovingly” referred to as lazy, entitled, whinny and addicted to avocados…. A millennial! (I don’t even like avocados).
Millennials (also known as gen Y) are people born between 1981 to 1996. We’ve had our fair share of negative stereotypes but overall I like being a millennial. I like being able to remember a time before the internet while enjoying all the advances along the way.
One change I can’t get on board with is this “online cancel culture”. The “ok boomer” meme which started off with young people being sick and tired of being told that they “don’t know anything” and they should “stay in a child's place” has become a way to be dismissive and shut down conversations with people whose opinions we don’t like.
In defence of boomers
Boomers who were born between 1944 and 1964 were the movers and shakers of their time. They were in a transformative phase in society with civil rights movements, women's rights movements were happening all over the western world. Political unrest was also present in those times which caused the young people to lose trust in their governments and protests were like nothing you’d ever seen.
I think young people today have a lot in common with boomers. There are lots of new movements lead by young people pushing for the human rights of minorities. There is also a lot of anger and mistrust for the government in our young people especially when it comes to things like climate change.
A lot of times I hear my family members from the boomer generation often say things like “but we talked about this when I was a young person, why are we still talking about it?”
This is where the lines tend to be drawn in the sand. Boomers claim young people know nothing and refuse to listen; young people say nobody listens to our fears and they refuse to listen. I hear where both groups are coming from.
What does God say
It is clear to me that God raises up young people to be apart of these conversations. I believe this as a youth worker. Part of my job is to empower young people to have a voice and be heard! With this there also must be wise teachings supporting and elevating our young people (and not tear them down!)
I do believe young people who are passionate about justice and saving the planet have a lot to learn from boomers. I do believe God would rather we work together for the greater good as a pose to fighting with each other on the internet and at family gatherings.
Sadly, until the walls come down and we are all prepared to listen to each other and perhaps allow ourselves to be challenged. Then maybe “ok boomer” will become a dead meme.
Chanell Diaz is a member of The Salvation Army in New Zealand. She and her husband Ronald both work as child care workers and Chanell is also a qualified Youth Worker through Praxis. Chanell has a heart for justice and enjoys creating art and writing in her spare time.