I'm a member of the "baby boom" generation, having recently turned 61-years-old. So it was great interest that the "Ok, boomer" phrase caught my attention.

"Ok, boomer" became a wildly popular meme in 2019, showing up in both political and pop culture.

For those who haven't come across the phrase, it's meant to be a slur, a pejorative term deployed my millennials and Gen Z aimed at my generation, an older generation that is thought to be narrow-minded and not having a clue.

As a mocking put-down, the phrase is especially effective — "Ok, boomer, we heard you, now go away and leave us alone."

Some claim the phrase is an ageist slur, especially in the workplace where age discrimination against older workers has become a cause célèbre — "Ok, boomer, retire already and get out of my way!"


Alas, the same kinds of things were said in my youth about my parents' generation. The pop phrase back then was, "Don't trust anyone over 30."

And indeed, my generation rebelled against the more stoic confines that defined our parent's worldview. Having lived through the Depression and World War II, our parents were grateful in the 1950s to have a secure job in a booming economy and a house in the suburbs. Having survived the Depression and horrors of war, they were a serious generation of grownups who sired a generation of spoiled youngsters who clearly didn't want to grow up.

Some of that was due to the pop culture created in the era. Television was new and wielded an immense amount of influence on boomers. It helped nurture, then spread, a pop culture infused with new music, clothes, cars and changing social mores. And it had a huge influence on the larger political culture, fueling a spirit of rebellion among baby boomers who had come to question the authority of their parents' generation. If our parents were conformists, Boomers were non-conformists who challenged everything.

It was Boomers who infused the Civil Rights Movement with youthful energy; who began the movement of gender equality in the workplace; and who marched against the Vietnam War and its stupid waste of lives.

The era of the late-1950s through the mid-1970s was a time of tremendous change and turmoil in the nation that affected everyone, even those who weren't directly a part of the counter-culture movement.

Our parents' generation was traditional, conservative, and for the most part, embraced the status quo. They burned Elvis's records (he was too sexual), detested Civil Rights supporters marching in the streets (troublemakers!) and largely supported the Vietnam War, even if they didn't know what it was all about.

And underlying much of that was a sense by our parents that Boomers were arrogant little snots who were ungrateful for the bounty that we had been born with.


Today, many Boomers are saying the same kinds of things about their children and grandchildren.

The Boomer generation gripes about today's youth and its affection for political correctness, but the political correctness embraced by many Boomers is even more absurd. You don't dare disagree with a Boomer because, well, we Boomers believe we know everything — just ask us.

Where we were once non-conformist and challenged authority, we are now the largest group of status quo conformists in history. And we will believe the most absurd things we see on social media without asking any questions, especially if it conforms to our preexisting notions of the world.

We are arrogant, self-absorbed and have a huge sense of entitlement. Boomers complain about the welfare system and demand self-reliance, all while drawing on Social Security, which is the largest entitlement program in the nation.

You can also see our sense of entitlement in public spaces, like at entrances to restaurants and other buildings. Boomers, especially older, white Boomers, will gather in a gaggle, blocking the door as if nobody else in the world exists except their own little group.

If it were a group of young, black males blocking the door, the police would undoubtedly be called — but not Boomers, who feel entitled to occupy whatever space they want to, anyone else be damned.

And we Boomers are rude. Go to any public meeting where there is a controversial rezoning and watch how Boomers act — loud, obnoxious, arrogant, bossy and demanding.

All of that has led us to where we are in the nation today. Boomers created much of the world we live in and control most of the nation's accumulated wealth.

But we also created our nation's divisive culture and politics. The extreme partisanship we see in the nation is a direct result of Boomer culture. You can't blame anyone for the s*&%show in Washington D.C. today other than the Boomer generation.


I'm a Boomer so I can say this: We Boomers have the largest sense of entitlement in the history of the nation. We have created a mess, but instead of taking ownership, we increasingly claim to be the victim. We blame others for all our ills, but are damned if we will look in a mirror to see where the real fault lies.

In youth, Boomers created a huge amount of social and political upheaval, much of it needed. Boomers were right to call for racial and gender equality and to demand more accountability from a government that had run amuck in Southeast Asia.

Now, on our way out the door, we're again causing a tremendous amount of upheaval, this time by acting like the arrogant little snots our parents said we were in the 1950s and 1960s.

Hell, maybe they were right all along.

Mike Buffington is co-publisher of Mainstreet Newspapers. He is a Boomer and can be reached at mike@mainstreetnews.com.

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