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OK, Boomer

Category: Baby Boomer Retirement Issues

November 29, 2019 — In case you hear this comment from a millennial, Gen X, or Yer, it is NOT a compliment. It is a dismissal, as in, “OK, baby boomer, you have a lot to say, but your day is over. Kindly step aside.” Younger folks tend to use this term on social media to respond to anybody over 30 who says something condescending about young people .

Perhaps we deserve it, justice served a generation later. Certainly we baby boomers are awfully proud of how we changed things back in the day – our music, rebellions, cultural shifts. Today we seem to think we know everything and have strong opinions – millennials are lazy, the younger generation doesn’t know about hard work, etc. Sound familiar: Remember how we were convinced, back in the day, that our parents knew nothing and we knew it all.

One famous use of the term occurred in the New Zealand legislature when an older member heckled a young representative about climate change.

Responding OK Boomer

Responding to the term can be tricky. AARP got egg on its face when Myrna Blyth, senior vice president of AARP, snapped back at the term “OK, boomer.”

“OK, millennials. But we’re the people that actually have the money,”

AARP Senior VP Myrna Blyth

That comment came off exactly like the arrogant kind of thing that the younger generation is responding to when they say “OK, Boomer”. It immediately generated outrage in almost every demographic, including baby boomers. Millennials, Gen X, Y, and Z struggle to buy homes, pay their college debts, don’t have pensions, and worry that Social Security will be there for them. The AARP official’s gloating response hit the wrong chord and immediately went viral.

Other experts have cautioned young workers about using the term on the job, which could prompt a charge of agism.

Bottom line. So far nobody has said “OK, Boomer” to us, or at least that we could hear. We are taking the view that there might be something in it, and that we can learn from the sentiment. We’ll try to be a little more humble about how much we know, own, and how cool we were back in the day. Getting along is a good thing! Please share your reactions in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on November 28th, 2019

24 Comments »

  1. “Ok Boomer” gives me hope. I’m fine with the younger generation taking their rightful turn just as we did.

    by Debra — November 29, 2019

  2. Who cares? I’m a petite blond and my whole life have picked up “dismissive vibes” from people who misunderestimated (tip of the hat to W) my type. Never bothered me and OK Boomer doesn’t either. But can you imagine if someone picked another demographic group to make a condescending comment about? The PC crowd would be howling!

    by jean — November 29, 2019

  3. I was struck by the comment that “Millennials, Gen X, Y, and Z struggle to buy homes.” I will lay a lot of the current problems at the feet of the boomers, but not this one. At least in California (and I’m sure elsewhere) housing prices are high because of high tech companies and various other start-ups that pay salaries unheard of when I was working, and dispense stock options that make these later generations overnight millionaires when the companies go public. And because many of those working in high tech can work from home, they will buy homes in areas far distant from their offices, driving up housing prices in areas other than Silicon Valley. So it’s not the boomers driving up housing prices – its the ‘Millennials, Gen X, Y, and Z” and their demand for housing. Additionally, flipping real estate has become a thing with these later generations, and that too has driven up the price of housing. Granted, not everyone in these generations is becoming an overnight millionaire, but there are enough – in California at least – to put housing out of reach of many (including boomers).

    by JoannC — November 29, 2019

  4. “OK Boomer” is *NOT* OK, far as I’m concerned. It’s dismissive and rude… a blanket invalidation of anyone in our age group. Granted, many boomers (my generation) ARE jerks. However, we would all be better served if people from all age groups were open to listening and learning from others. It’s a matter of basic decency and respect!

    by David Mandelstamm — November 29, 2019

  5. On the one hand that sort of comment is a good reminder to be mindful of what you’re putting out there (and to stay humble while doing so). No one likes a “know it all” and there’s a fine line between trying to sincerely help and trying to prove prowess. But, on the other, those types of quips only serve to cultivate the divide between generations, which is no more helpful than being a “know it all”. More restraint and decorum for all ages would be beneficial.

    by Marlene — November 29, 2019

  6. Well, Baby Boomers are the last of the generations that made America great. End of story. The subsequent generations are less than impressive so what they think of us is like asking Justin Beiber what he thinks of Elvis or The Beatles. Who cares?

    by Jack West — November 29, 2019

  7. I don’t particularly care for anyone that’s a “know it all” regardless of age. I do find it sad that not only are people confrontational about politics, religion and sex now generations have been pitted against each other. All generations can learn from each other. Age should not be used as a weapon. Contrary to the belief everyone in my generation opposed everything their parents believed is not true. I didn’t, I just wasn’t vocal about it. I had to go to work straight out of high school. I didn’t have the luxury to think about protesting.. I may have thought they were old fashion in their beliefs but I still knew they had wisdom about things I hadn’t yet experienced. All this negativity is depressing.

    by Kate — November 29, 2019

  8. I have been told by some younger relatives that they think it’s time for us boomers to move aside because we are making decisions that we will not have to live with long term such as the failure to do anything about climate change. It does remind me of how I felt about political leaders making decisions about Vietnam Nam. They weren’t going to be the ones fighting. Remember “never trust anyone over 30?”

    Older people vote in ways that often run counter to the interests of other age groups. The frequent votes against educational bonds, recreational facilities etc create generational friction. TV coverage of such opposition is often punctuated by pictures who look like us. Many of us do tend to oppose new ideas, new technologies etc. This is really nothing new, in as far as younger people think those before them screwed up, and older folks think we have all the wisdom out there. Both are true, and neither is true. Continuing communication is the only answer.

    by Barbara — November 29, 2019

  9. Back in the day we used to think “old fogey” when trapped by a lecturing oldster, but never said the words out loud (respect for elders drilled into our brains.) Today’s version of “OK, Boomer” reminds me of the endless “Whatever!” I received from my teenager during that hellish period. Today she might think it, but doesn’t say it out loud. That’s maturity. And if I live long enough will witness payback when her child levels her with the slur-du-jour. Ah, the circle of life.

    by Daryl — November 30, 2019

  10. The interest rate on our first mortgage was 9 percent. We had to have 25 percent down, which was half of my husband’s gross annual salary (my compensation was not taken into account) before any bank would even talk to us. That house was very modest and we put a lot fo sweat equity into it even though we both worked long hours.
    We also had no expectations of inheriting wealth from our parents either.

    by Sandie — November 30, 2019

  11. This is just normal transformation from generation to generation and should be taken with a grain of salt. We call this the circle of life; and we all travel this erratic circle. When our time is over, we all exit the circle alone! I believe I just experienced a senior moment and regressed 50 years to revisit Freshman Philosophy 101 with Dr. McFarland. LOL?

    by Bubbajog — November 30, 2019

  12. I agree with Bubbajog and many others – I shrug it off. My kids grew up with stories of Vietnam protests, lakes that caught fire from pollution, the days before EEOC/HUD and other federal programs to help people, etc. They heard stories about me trying to buy an entry level home when interest rates were 15-18%. They understand Boomers had successes as well as failures. My kids majored in fields that would lead to careers, assumed staggering grad school debt — and all moved to cities with solid economies and lower costs of living. All of them have been able to buy starter homes (ages 27-33) with a lot of hard work and and some help from new buyer programs. They didn’t go to Starbucks every week or go drinking with friends, shared rent with roommates for awhile,
    skipped vacations, bought used cars, and were willing to buy starter homes that needed some work. In their locations, they determined it was cheaper to buy than to rent. The two that are married skipped costly weddings and applied their funds to their home purchase. One of the kids already earns six figures at his job — but still works a second job to enhance his resume and savings.

    Somewhere in the country there are Millennials/Gen X-Yrs who will be the next Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and other titan who will invent new technologies or create huge businesses. Likewise, there are Millenials/Gen X-Yrs who will work really hard just to survive. Some will be great, honorable people who contribute to their communities, and some will spend their lifetime complaining about bad breaks or blaming Boomers. Their generation is no different from ours…there will be winners and losers. I’d suggest anyone who disses the Boomers just buckle down. (Kate #2)

    by Kate — December 1, 2019

  13. Well, I think respect goes both ways. However, some of us boomers did quite well. My husband and I were married at ages 19 and 21. Neither of us had great jobs in the early days but we plugged along. We built our home two years later. We saved and saved our money even though we had low paying jobs. Over the years we went onto better paying jobs and my husband became a licensed tradesman. We continued to save and now have a very nice retirement nest egg. Our SS checks are above average. I see young adults in many families now that still live at home at age 30 or older. Some do not contribute to the household. They complain that they can’t get ahead. Why can’t they work two jobs, one regular and one part time job? Where is the drive to get out of mom and dad’s house and be on their own? We boomers get a mixed bag of advice. SS tells us to work till at least to our FRA or older. Young people want us out of the way, get out of the work force so they supposedly can climb the corporate ladder. When I was younger I worked with some older individuals. Many were great inspirations, some were duds. Just like young people. Some are fantastic, some are duds. I loved working with both young and old. I garnered a lot of knowledge from the older workers and it was refreshing to work with younger people too. I think we all need to appreciate each individual for what they bring to the table. This BOOMER is OK! Worked hard, have a paid off home, money in investments, paid off cars. We started in the trenches and had to find our own way. The young generations, including our own, forgets that IF we are lucky enough, we will live long and become old one day. Yes, we boomers have lived thru a lot and seen a lot of things come and go and we can still talk about things gone by. Such as, dial phones, flip phones, VCR’s, movie rentals, drive in theaters, 8 track players, CD players, DVD players, black and white tv, land lines, phones with cords, tv dinners, Pong, Woodstock and much, much more! The younger generations will have a bag full of history when they get our age too. They just don’t get it yet!

    by Louise — December 1, 2019

  14. Louise, many comments made me want to respond, but — “what she said”. :<)

    by RichPB — December 1, 2019

  15. I live in Southern California and youth and beauty are a real part of the SoCal culture. You see the same culture at South Beach in Florida. If you watch and enjoy college football, you see that same cultural variable. Humans have continuously searched for that “fountain of youth.” Our American culture is youth driven, and always has been. As a society we have never paid much homage to aging. Obviously, people are grateful if they have lived a long and healthy life. They just wish they were not so DAMN OLD!

    by Bubbajog — December 2, 2019

  16. We’re comfortably retired, living in a nice condo, and enjoying life. The millennials that we interact with, (granddaughter, her boyfriend and their friends) are not too stupid, but there are a couple that still don’t know beans about life.
    At Thanksgiving, one young expert in life, (male) was going on and on about every aspect of expecting a child what the woman is going through, and what every woman naturally wanted and needed. Pontificating and rattling off info gleaned from the latest grocery store tabloid.

    Between bites of pumpkin pie, I noted that not everyone might agree. His reply was “OK Boomer…..”

    To which I said, “And you base this on you being pregnant how many times?”

    Utter silence for one minute, then laughter for five minutes resulting in one abashedly red faced twenty one year old not saying a word.

    I was mean enough to continue. “And remember, boomers are the ones that can actually do something. We know things and possess skills and experiences of life that you simply cannot conceive of, instead of reading them from a magazine.”

    “Tell you what, when you have jumped from an airplane at 1600 feet with 52 pounds of parachute and 108 pounds of equipment strapped to your body at midnight, when you’ve paid your own way through college, when you’ve built a house, when you’ve become expert at your career and are respected nationwide in your chosen field of expertise, when you’ve raised a family and put both kids through college and still have your beloved look at you with a gleam in her eye, then you can talk about us boomers. For your first step, might I suggest you move out of your parent’s house.”

    Mean? Somewhat. Satisfying? Definitely.

    by Keith Davis — December 5, 2019

  17. Keith, wow. Yes, kind of mean. I don’t know the lingo, but is a 21 year old s millennial? I have a 30 year old daughter and she and her friends are amazing. They are hard working, successful in their careers, driven, and just impressive all around. My daughter, and many of her friends were raised in what we used to call broken homes, by divorced parents and did not have the advantages of a solid family that boomers had. When my daughter gives me advice now, I just smile and love that she is now a confident adult. Yes, maybe a little too confident, but life itself will teach her those hard lessons we all had to learn. I don’t blame the millennials for looking at our generation and thinking they can do better, because I pray that they do. I am deeply disappointed by my own generation and the way so many lived their lives. Sounds like you did a good job raising your family, bur so many of us boomers turned out to be self centered and materialistic, at least in my circle of the world. So, when a millennial says, “ok boomer” to me, I say that I hope they can make the world a better place. The hope is in the next generations.

    by Maimi — December 6, 2019

  18. Keith, LOVE your last paragraph!!

    by Carol — December 6, 2019

  19. Maimi – I have to respectfully disagree with much of what you have said. First, you indicate that boomers had solid families. No. I came from a “broken home” and on top of that, from a very poor family. Some of my boomer friends also came from broken homes. To make things worse, divorce wasn’t accepted as much then as it is now, so those of us from so-called broken homes were different and it was an embarrassing situation, especially when your mom remarried and her last name was different from yours. I’m not at all disappointed by my generation. Sure – we had some jerks but really, so does every generation (good grief – look at Mark Zuckerberg). I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished (the first in my family not only to graduate from college but also to go on and get two advanced degrees), and I’m proud of what my generation has accomplished. We took principled stands on so many things, and I disagree that we turned out to be self-centered and materialistic. That may be a popular trope, but it is not at all reflective of the people I grew up with, went to college with, and still have as friends. Mine is the generation of hippies, communes, and anti-war protests – the antithesis of being self-centered and materialistic. Today, we are the generation of volunteers and charitable givers. I know it’s a popular thing to bash boomers for greed, wealth, and consumerism, but to characterize two decades worth of people with these terms is to overlook evidence to the contrary.

    by JoannC — December 6, 2019

  20. I totally agree with JoannC. All generations have good and bad representatives and we cannot generalize. I have high hopes for the future. People do things differently and we will adjust.

    by Jennifer — December 6, 2019

  21. Yay JoannC…you said it perfectly!

    by Loralee — December 7, 2019

  22. Ok, you’ve all watched the nature documentaries, right? Old king of beasts deposed and run out of town by younger, stronger lions. In contrast, elephants revere their elders. Maybe our mistake was no longer teaching the younger generations to respect elders, which some other cultures still do. A verbal put-down of my mother, father, grandmother, teacher, older relative or neighbor would have resulted in social disapproval at the very least. Let’s see if they can do a better job of improving the world, a win-win for all. Stay healthy and stick around, we might get the last laugh.

    by Daryl — December 8, 2019

  23. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/10/divorce-united-states-dropping-because-millennials/

    Facts matter. Our generation had the highest divorce rate of any prior(and hopefully future) generation. Of course individual cases vary, but data is data.

    by Maimi — December 8, 2019

  24. Maimi, it seems you and I are acquainted with the same kind of Millennials. We certainly share the same hopes that they will clean up many of the messes we are so callously leaving them. With luck, skill, and sacrifice they may right the climate ship, scoop up ocean garbage patches, regenerate coral reefs, etc.

    Whether they and subsequent generations will forgive our myopic selfishness is another question entirely.

    While ours WAS the generation of anti-war protests, we somehow morphed into a group that now cheers on volunteering for military service in far-flung, interminable, unwinnable, poorly justified wars. (Sound familiar?) What’s worse, we do so with suggestions that these young folks will return as well-supported heroes, then turn aside when their PTSD and poor skills cause them to be homeless.

    We can and should do better for ensuing generations.

    Millennials have a much tougher row to hoe on almost every front than we Boomers did and I salute their herculean efforts.

    by JCarol — December 10, 2019

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