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OK, boomers, welcome to the other side of the generation gap

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Back in 1965, only a couple of years after the term "baby boomer" caught on as a label for the generation born in the wake of World War II, one 17-year-old high school newspaper columnist tried to explain his generation to his skeptical elders:

"Although we still have to face our responsibilities someday," he wrote, "our first impulse is to turn our backs and form a second society of our own. Someday we shall know for whom the bells toll but, for now, their sound is covered by the sounds of our hot rods and Beatles records."

That young journalist was me. I wrote that bold, manifesto-like essay, "New Breed of Teen Creates Second Society," in the March 2 edition of the biweekly newspaper at Middletown High School in Middletown, Ohio. It even won an award from a high school journalism association for best feature story, which helped make up for my failure to make the school's basketball team.

More than a half-century later, I find myself rereading that piece to reacquaint myself with my high school version of me, now that my generation faces a new cultural assault from post-boomers.

I'm referring to the odd internet meme "OK, boomer," which has gone viral globally as Generations X, Y and Z's all-purpose retort to older people, bless our hearts, who just don't get it.

Appropriately, this craze reportedly began on TikTok, a web application still almost unknown to those of us who are still wondering why Snapchat is any better than Facebook. In one well-known clip on TikTok, a man of senior years grumbles, "The millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don't ever want to grow up." That brought thousands of replies, most of which were "ok boomer," The New York Times reported.

 

The hashtag #okboomer went global. In New Zealand, Chlöe Swarbrick, a 25-year-old member of Parliament, went viral on video when she was heckled by an older member during a speech supporting a climate crisis bill. She casually responded with a terse, "OK, boomer," and resumed her speech without missing a beat.

A more recently viral variation satirized news that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was preparing a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination: "Ok, Bloomer."

But some attempts can be a tweet too far. Conservative Rochester radio host Bob Lonsberry, 60, tweeted this clunker of a protest tweet last weekend: " 'Boomer' is the n-word of ageism. Being hip and flip does not make bigotry OK, nor is a derisive epithet acceptable because it is new."

Tsk, tsk. Thanks, Mr. Lonsberry for adding to my examples of how you don't have to be a liberal to act like a PC "snowflake."

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(c) 2019 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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