OK Boomers: It's Time to Remember Our Youthful Days

Let's use a little empathy to walk in the shoes of today's young people.

Posted Dec 03, 2019

I am a baby boomer, born in the middle of that generation and I love the new phrase "OK Boomer." I know I am supposed to be insulted or annoyed at the lack of respect that is perceived to be linked to it, but I am not. Why? Because it is the creativity, dry sense of humor, and calling out of authority that is exactly what I loved about being part of the youth of the baby boomer generation.

E.A. Segal
Source: E.A. Segal

Almost 50 years later, I still try and hold onto the slogan “Question Authority” that I had on a button pinned to the bookbag that I carried proudly to school each day. I was only in high school, but I understood what it meant – just because older people are in charge does not mean they always know what is best or take actions that are good for us. In fact, what growing up as a baby boomer taught me is that those in power often do not know what is best. We who are younger and have a much longer future ahead of us see the world differently, and that is a good thing. If I believed that then, shouldn’t I believe that now? Yes, and that is why I love the retort OK Boomer. We need to remember.

We remember through our use of empathy, both interpersonal and social. For example, if we take a walk back in time, we should remember the passion of our fighting against nuclear power because the prospect of a nation relying on something that might blow us to smithereens was important to us. Yes, we survived and it did not happen, but who is to say that all those protests and live concerts did not make a difference and put authorities on notice to take better care of how we use nuclear power? I can see myself and my peers in the young people of today, and that makes me hopeful. I am thrilled to see a younger generation caring enough to call us older folks out on the mistakes we made, the things we messed up. We did it when we were their age, and I think it made a difference. We should applaud them for doing the same now.  

Every time I look at young people and hear comments that they are doing something crazy or naïve or dramatic, I stop and put myself in their shoes. I think back to what I was like when I was their age. And more often than not I am impressed by their grasp of the situation, their choice of actions, and their words. I admire the young people who are staging rallies and protests to address climate change. I was so impressed by the young people of Parkland who spoke up and took action after the mass shooting at their high school. Their efforts inspired hundreds of rallies across the nation “marching for our lives.” I would like to think I might have been as brave and articulate as they are, although I am not so sure. What I am sure of is that they are doing it in the same spirit and emotion of what baby boomers did 50 years ago.

My dear fellow Boomers, let's not be hypocritical. Instead of thinking the younger generations are snowflakes, we should be proud that they are taking up the tradition of young generations before them, they are doing what our generation did, questioning those in charge. And they are doing it with insight and passion. I applaud them for their work, and I am grateful for the chance to remember what made my youth meaningful and that it is still important to question authority.