"OK Boomer" is a catchphrase and internet meme that gained popularity among younger cohorts throughout 2019, used to dismiss or mock attitudes stereotypically attributed to the baby boomer generation. It is considered by some to be ageist.
"OK Boomer" was popularized as a reaction to a video of an unidentified older man, in which he declared that "millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don't ever want to grow up; they think that the Utopian ideals that they have in their youth are somehow going to translate into adulthood". The video inspired the phrase "OK Boomer" as a retaliation and dismissal of the ideals of past generations that have shaped politics, economics and the environment so strongly.
The first recorded instance of the phrase "OK boomer" appeared in a Reddit comment on 29 January 2009, 10 years before popular usage.
The term's recent usage can be traced back to 2015 on 4chan, but started to become popular from January 2019. The term gained media popularity in early November 2019 when articles about the phrase were published.
The phrase "OK Boomer" is a pejorative retort used to dismiss or mock perceived narrow-minded, outdated, negatively-judgemental, or condescending attitudes of older people, particularly baby boomers. The term has been used as a retort for perceived resistance to technological change, climate change denial, marginalization of minorities or opposition to younger generations' ideals.
Reactions have been mixed, with perspectives ranging from "the hatred is justified" to "the baby boomers are not to be blamed". It is considered by some to be highly ageist. The conservative radio host Bob Lonsberry went as far as labeling the word "boomer" as "the n-word of ageism" in a controversial tweet that was deleted not long after being posted. Furthermore, he stated that "being hip and flip does not make bigotry ok, nor is a derisive epithet acceptable because it is new". Stephen Colbert addressed the comparison in the segment 'Meanwhile...' on The Late Show, saying "clearly this fella needs to play the hot new game: Is This The New N-Word? No, it's not, thank you for playing."
Writing for The Guardian, Bhaskar Sunkara criticized the meme in November 2019, saying that members of the baby boomer generation instead "need solidarity" as many "older workers and retirees are struggling to survive", as "half of Americans approaching age 65 have less than $25,000 in savings".
In early November 2019, New Zealand MP Chlöe Swarbrick, while giving a speech supporting a climate change bill in Parliament, promptly responded with "OK Boomer" after Todd Muller interjected in disbelief to her claim that the average age of parliament was 49 years old.
"OK Boomer" is a song written and produced by 20-year-old college student Johnathan Williams, which was shared on Twitter in July 2019. The song features cutting lyrics and him shouting "OK Boomer" repeatedly in response. 19-year-old Peter Kuli then published a remix of the song on SoundCloud that circulated on TikTok, fueling the meme even further, serving as an anthem.
During halftime of the Harvard-Yale football game played on 23 November 2019, climate change protesters interrupted the game by rushing the field and remaining even after they were asked to leave, instead chanting "OK Boomer".
Multiple trademark applications have been filed for the repartee, including one from Fox Media, with the intent to launch "an on-going television series featuring reality competition, comedy and game shows."
- Bote, Joshua (4 November 2019). "Why are Gen Z and millennials calling out boomers on TikTok? 'OK, boomer,' explained". USA Today. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
- Hoffa, Felipe. ""OK Boomer" escalated quickly — a reddit+BigQuery report". Towards Data Science. Medium. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
- Romano, Aja (19 November 2019). ""OK boomer" isn't just about the past. It's about our apocalyptic future". Vox. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
- Franks, Josephine (6 November 2019). "Chlöe Swarbrick explains what 'OK boomer' means". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
- Mezzofiore, Gianluca (6 November 2019). "A 25-year-old politician got heckled during a climate crisis speech. Her deadpan retort: 'OK, boomer'". CNN. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
- "What does OK boomer mean?". Dictionary.com. 4 November 2019. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
- Lorenz, Taylor (29 October 2019). "'OK Boomer' Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
- Rosenblatt, Kalhan (29 October 2019). "Teens use 'OK boomer' to fire back at older generations' criticisms". NBC News. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
- "'OK Boomer': Chloe Swarbrick swats away heckler". Stuff.co.nz. 6 November 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
- Annear, Steve (7 November 2019). "How a Lexington teen's song remix turned into an 'OK, Boomer' anthem". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
- Bebernes, Mike (6 November 2019). "'OK Boomer': Behind the generational divide". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
- Ishisaka, Naomi (6 November 2019). "Ageism casts a shadow over the twilight of Larry Gossett's King County Council career". Seattle Times. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
- Behrmann, Anna (6 November 2019). "Pointless ageist name-calling won't solve frustrations despite 'Ok, Boomer' being a millennial fight-back". iNews. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
- Brice-Saddler, Michael (5 November 2019). "A conservative radio host compared 'boomer' to the n-word. Even Dictionary.com was appalled". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
- Herbert, Geoff (6 November 2019). "Stephen Colbert mocks radio host Bob Lonsberry: 'OK boomer' (video)". Syracuse.com. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
- Sunkara, Bhaskar (6 November 2019). "Why it's time to ditch the 'ok boomer' meme". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
- "'OK boomer': 25-year-old New Zealand MP uses viral term in parliament". BBC News. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- Annear, Steve (7 November 2019). "How a Lexington teen's song remix turned into an 'OK, Boomer' anthem". Boston Globe. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
- Bogage, Jacob; Knowles, Hannah (24 November 2019). "Students swarm field at Harvard-Yale football game, chant 'OK boomer' in climate change protest". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
- Hooker, Lucy (1 November 2019). "'OK Boomer' has earned me $25,000, says student". BBC News. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
- Picchi, Aimee (19 November 2019). "Fox Media wants to trademark "OK boomer"". CBS News. Retrieved 24 November 2019.