Within the last few weeks, crosshairs have been firmly fixed on boomers. From Twitter and Facebook to Reddit and other websites, the use of the hashtag “okboomer” has exploded. The hashtag is, essentially, a verbal eyeroll, indicating that anything said by the boomer can be safely ignored.
However, many users seem to be using the rising tide of #okboomer to unleash pent up anger. In one Facebook comment, a user said, “such a boomer (crying emoji).” She followed up with another comment, declaring, “I just truly hate interacting with boomers.”
Why all the hate? Statements can be found that proclaim boomers have ruined the economy and the environment as well as broadened the racial divide in the country. While the majority is simply using the hashtag as an outlet for frustration against perceived ills, there is something dangerous about the notion. The notion that a group can be slighted because of when they were born and how that affected the way they currently view the world.
The problem isn’t one of age but perspective. With the hashtag, users rail against what they see as incorrect in the world and the people they think caused it.
In an NBC article, Nicole Spector says, “Much like ’millennial,’ ’boomer‘ doesn’t merely indicate a person born in a given time or place; it’s a blanket term referencing the predominant trends, values and concerns of an entire generation.” At times, the hashtag may be funny, but it slights a diverse group without giving a reason.
That is not the way we as a nation need to interact, and boomers aren’t the only generation to be targeted in this way. Millennials have been lumped together and slighted much longer than #okboomer has been around. While there are benefits to understanding the thoughts and preferences of generations and groups of people, to attack the whole group as one, simplifying the issue at hand, has no benefit.
New York Times columnist David Brooks tweeted a link to one of his newly published columns. Most users commented about the column topic in agreement or disagreement, but one user simply commented “I don’t answer to you, boomer.”
Not the most helpful statement. When generations differ, as they have for years and will continue to, we must be careful in our reaction, both the younger to the older and the older to the younger. We must understand that we determine what we believe, but we are also heavily impacted by our circumstances.
Furthermore, as Christians, we want to maintain open, healthy relationships with those of every birth year. Wealths of knowledge have been passed down within the church through biblical discipleship, from mature Christians to the newer generation of church leaders.
Likewise, in the public sphere we should be open to dialogue regardless of trite or major differences.
Older and younger generations may differ in music, movies or pastimes. But that isn’t something to get bent out of shape over. But when serious generational differences occur, we cannot allow our response to be, “I don’t answer to you, boomer.”
Instead, we must seek to understand and think through the topics at hand. A hashtag like “okboomer” does little to nothing in achieving that end.