What Does 'OK Boomer' Mean And Where Does It Come From?

Millennials and Gen Z are bored with your insults. Seriously, they've had it. Being called a "snowflake" doesn't sting. Calling them entitled is tedious. They like avocado toast, and they don't care if you care. In fact, youngsters find the whole "these kids are ruining the world!" narrative so tiresome that they've collectively written off their naysayers for good. Their secret weapon? A deceptively casual phrase — "OK, Boomer" — which relegates crabby old farts into a punchline. 

"OK, Boomer" didn't erupt from nowhere, though. The phrase can be traced as far back as 2015 on 4chan, according to Vox, but it was only in 2019 where the popularity of a song titled (what else?) "OK BOOMER!," by Peter Kuli and Jedwill, led to numerous Generation Z teenagers making singalong videos, via the Chinese social media platform TikTok, to express their own frustration at the judgmental, bigoted attitudes they've often encountered from older people. 

That said, while some Boomers have cried out about ageism, there's a deeper meaning to these shenanigans that often gets overlooked. 

The meaning of 'OK boomer' is more layered than people think

Okay, so Baby Boomer resentment is now filling your Facebook feed with memes, inspiring a TV show, and appearing on coffee mugs, but context is important. For one, TV anchors, headlines, and that cranky uncle you only see on Thanksgiving have bashed Millennials for nearly two decades, and as the Boston Globe points out, these constant criticisms — I.E., "Millennials are killing the napkin industry" — are not just ridiculous, but repeat the same cycle of "kids these days"-style complaints that have gone on for centuries. Two, while probably the majority of Baby Boomers find this meme amusing, there are some ornery people being hyper-sensitive about it. For example, according to Fast Company, radio host Bob Lonsberry complained on Twitter that "Boomer is the n-word of ageism," a stance so ridiculous that even Dictionary.com put the dude in his place. Of course, what makes this entitled Boomer rage so hilariously ironic (and hypocritical) is that people like Lonsberry are the same ones who tend to defiantly mock safe spaces and trigger warnings... only to burst into tears when someone calls them a Boomer. Yeah.

Anyhow, these critics miss the point. "OK, Boomer" isn't ageist, nor a dismissal of old folks in general. It's simply a collective groan at a certain type of Boomer who has held the keys to the world for a long time, while endlessly complaining about how Millennials vote, buy, express their gender, and so on. Meanwhile, as Millennials get blamed for everything, their young adulthood has been plagued by insane levels of wealth inequality, political polarization, student debt, and a looming threat of climate change, all of which is largely the product of Boomer-era politics. 

In the end, this generational battle will end the same way it always does: younger generations always win, if only because they live longer. That's just the cycle of history, folks.