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The Real Problem with “OK, Boomer”

By Family Conflict ResolutionDecember, 2019March 18th, 20243 min read

You may have seen the latest viral meme sweeping the internet. “OK, Boomer” is the response of younger people to complaints by older people about their behaviour and attitudes.

Readers of this newsletter may know my attitude to the whole “generation wars” narrative – it’s a load of crap and we shouldn’t get caught up in it. Older people have been complaining about younger people for as long as there have been multiple generations on this earth, and research points to the reasons why we do this (see link below).

However, there is one thing commentators haven’t picked up about the “OK, Boomer” phenomenon. The problem with memes is that they are short, simplistic, and importantly they are conversation stoppers. When we throw up a meme, it’s like saying “I agree/disagree, here is my curt response, and there is nothing more to say on the matter”.

When it comes to intergenerational conflict, that is the worst way to respond, because what we ought to be doing is building bridges and enabling better communication and understanding between groups of people who look at the world (and express their opinions) in very different ways. This can’t be achieved with meme wars and throw away lines. The issues are complex and nuanced, and require bilateral efforts – yes, both generations need to work toward communicating better and understanding each other. It’s not easy, it won’t happen overnight, but with effort, it can happen.

Consider This: (Directed at older family members) Do you know what a meme is? Do you know why younger people like to communicate using memes, emojis, and social media? (Directed at younger family members) Can you imagine a time before the internet and social media? What do you think your parents and grandparents were like when they were your age? How do you think they related to their parents back then?

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Also published on LI as The real problem with “OK, Boomer”​.

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