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‘OK Boomer’: Intergenerational Shots Fired By Gen Z

"OK Boomer" has become a comical phrase online for younger generations to push back against ideas they find outdated.
Shannon O’Connor
"OK Boomer" has become a comical phrase online for younger generations to push back against ideas they find outdated.

Reverend Enos Hitchcock once wrote that “the free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth.”

Reverend Enos Hitchcock once wrote that “the free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth.”

While these words were penned in the late 18th century, the sentiment is alive as ever in the vibrant tradition of older generations deriding the ones that follow them. (And of course, “the youths” squarely ignoring criticisms.) 

Think of countless articles blaming millennials for killing everything from marriage to cereal. Think of the now infamous advice that millennials lay off avocado toast if they want to afford a mortgage. 

Well, Gen Z has coined its clapback: “OK boomer.” 

As written about in the New York Times, the term has become a go-to for teenagers to use both online and in-person to shut down criticisms or outdated ideas (voiced by someone from the boomer generation or otherwise). 

We dive into the meaning, usage and cultural context of the phrase, as well as what it says about intergenerational perceptions and tensions. 

Guest:

Amanda Montell, linguist, writer and author of “Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language;” she tweets

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