Monday, November 18, 2019

"OK, Boomer!" Really? Why This Laughable Meme Is Going Nowhere Beyond The Instagram-Twitter Bubble

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Here we go again. Time to pound on the Baby Boomers, this time by an apparent "alliance" of twerps consisting of Millennials, Gen Z losers ("Zeds") , and other younger generation malcontents who feel compelled to blame Baby Boomers for their lot in life or state of the world. According to the relevant Denver Post op-ed (Perspective, Nov. 10. p.1D) by one Molly Roberts.

Okay, we know that in the era of Trump and his retinue of enabling, sycophantic Repukes the fetish of grievance and victimhood has attained new heights. One beheld it on 'Fox & Friends Weekend' yesterday a.m. as a trio of caterwauling muppets cried their eyes out at Adam Schiff appearing before California Dems in Long Beach on Saturday and vowing to "send the charlatan back to his golden throne".  "How he could he say that?" They whined in unison. "Isn't he supposed to be above partisanship as head of the House Intel committee?"  

Give me a break. What are you losers, crybabies or journalists?

Given the Reeps will always wear the victim and grievance badge, but one expects the younger generations to rise above that and in particular, cease conflating all Boomers and blaming an entire generation for their ills.

Anyway, Roberts informs us that "OK, Boomer" has now become the all purpose comeback or retort anytime a perceived Boomer offers a criticism, e.g. "your grandpa tells you kids these days have lost all sense of civility for yelling at Ellen Degeneres for going to a football game with George W. Bush"

As Roberts puts it (ibid.):

"It's glib. It's short, and its's not at all sweet but 'OK, Boomer' also reveals something about each of today's generations.  So does the response they wrought."

Fair enough, but again let's be clear that despite the media's laziness it is not okay to conflate entire generations, particularly one like the Boomers that's been singled out for opprobrium far more than any other.

How did the meme originate?    Well, we learn: "the mainstreaming of the meme was making its way onto $36 Redbubble style sweatshirts sold by entrepreneurial 17 -year olds."

The meme evidently then caught fire because a conservative talk radio host (Bob Lonsberry) took to the internet to publicly pout and - instead of ignoring the (then) minor memetic insult - whined that "boomer  was the n-word of ageism".   Well hey, I never said conservos were not whiners and wimps, did I?  After all they're the ones driving the GOP grievance, victimhood mission against impeachment.

In any case, the response of the right wing radio jock  Lonsberry circulated, went viral, and "OK, Boomer" was born. Again, spawned on the back end reaction to a 3rd rate conservative talk show host.

Roberts goes on to inform us:

"Millennials have allied with Gen Z and managed to vitiate the meme in the process by basically, overdoing it.  'OK, Boomer' was fun and funny, so we said it about a million times on Twitter in the space of one day, and now it has become unfunny and lame.  That's appropriate too for a generation that supposedly kills every good thing."

But, of course, as one Denver Post letter writer (Susan Cummings),  responding to the piece in yesterday's paper noted (Perspective, p. 3D)::

"Boomers created the internet, the personal computer,  synthetic skin, the artificial heart and the cell phone so beloved by the young- all of which are taken for granted. Being a Boomer is an honor. We protested for peace, the environment, the end of the Berlin Wall, LGBTQ rights, animal rights, etc. At this point, all a Boomer can say is, 'OK, Kid".

Another letter writer (Douglas Croot) sounded off (ibid.):

"Being universally dismissive and surly is probably not the surest path to the success and fulfillment you seek,"

So it's a bit off to say - or even suppose- that  the Boomers "killed every good thing" especially given "recycling and composting programs around the nation were started at the demand of Baby Boomers, same for fuel efficient cars" (Letter from Mandell S. Winter Jr.).

Then the kicker from the 'OK, Boomer' author:

"It makes sense that millennials are taking up arms with our Gen  Z comrades-  because we're the ones who've been maligned the most for the sin of our birth years."

In fact it's not the "sin of your birth years"  but your indolence and insufferable lack of pluck especially (for millennials) in getting your asses out to vote and away from the tiny screens!  What we're all about then is the evident lack of independence, autonomy, and resilience i.e. that most of us had to develop very quickly given there was next to zero hand -holding from parents.   As one commenter put it, in response to my March 16, 2017 post excoriating Bruce Cannon Gibney and his anti-Boomer book:

"Most of us were raised by people with massive and undiagnosed PTSD from WW2. Mr Gibney has no concept of how much those people scraped up their lives and bravely had children and encouraged them to be better, and no, most of us, did not have a golden ticket."

The generational differences in autonomy and resilience are most evident in the younger generations' dealing with the  environments of college and political representation (namely lackadaisical voting patterns for the Millennial brigade). 

Hara Estroff Marano, the author of A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting,  put the issue in a nutshell in the case of the first:

"But in a real sense, students don't really leave their parents behind. Their parents go to college right along with them — in their front pockets. That is, the parents are a speed dial away by cellphone. And the evidence is clear that students call parents and parents call students at an alarmingly frequent rate. This, of course, significantly reduces independence.

A student gets a C on her first paper? Instead of absorbing the negative information and figuring out how to resolve the problem or how to do better, the call gets made to home, where Mom or Dad solves the problem, often by calling the school administration. This kind of behavior is, sadly, commonplace today and is a mark of the lack of coping skills among students because all the lumps and bumps have been taken out of life for them until now."

Protect the precious little dears so they undergo a minimum of pain or travail. Keep them in an artificial cocoon to sustain their dependence as long as possible. Don't allow them to have to negotiate their way in an unfamiliar college environment.  God forbid!

This take has also been confirmed by Linda Bips, a college psychologist:

"Many of today’s students lack resilience and at the first sign of difficulty are unable to summon strategies to cope. The hardship can be a failing grade on a test, a cut from the team, or a romantic  breakup. At the first sign of trouble many become unable to function and persevere. Often they even anticipate difficulties and their anxiety alone paralyzes them."

She then goes on to point out just how many incoming college students are on "meds" and writes:

"The number of students who arrive at college already medicated for unwanted emotions has increased dramatically in the past 10 years. We, as a society, don’t want to “feel” anything unpleasant and we certainly don’t want our children to “suffer.”

As Prof. Bips also observes:

 "The resulting problem is that by not experiencing negative emotions, one does not learn the necessary skills to tolerate and negotiate adversity.

The preceding observations are relevant if we (older Boomers especially)  are expected to take the young rebels' snark and memetic impudence seriously.  Particularly after Ms. Roberts writes:

"OK, Boomer' flips the script and is now telling old people that they're the one who don't  get it, and this 'despite countless chances to learn'"

But if she (and the OK, Boomer contingent) expect us to take that ""flipped script"   seriously - and not howl with laughter-  how about proving it. Showing us you have some moxie by being independent and not texting mommy and daddy every minute while at university, or expecting them to run interference with your college instructors. 

In the 60s, in our college days then, we took our lumps like the adults we one day wanted to be - whether from our profs or fellow students (including for 'Hell Week' orientation). The lumps taken helped us build character, personal authenticity (not just being part of a crowd) as well as reinforced critical thinking skills, i.e. when we engaged in sometimes animated 'bull sessions' in the dorms..

So the issue is not decrying Gen Zs or Millennials as "profligate"  or being "basement dwellers" but rather the consistent failure to evince pluck and autonomy,   to project their own authentic power and exercise it - whether in university or the political arena. You may be a "basement dweller" but (if a Millennial) you can still vote, and in so doing affect the arc of your life and that of your generation.

What one would like to see- certainly in my Boomer demographic - is more of the "OK, Boomer" lot not merely churning out snarky memes but emulating the courageous Parkland students, like David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez. and Delaney Tarr.  They not only mounted a credible and effective move for more gun control in Florida after the Feb. 14, 2018 Parkland massacre, but actively went out to sign up young prospective voters.  What are the rest of you doing? Will you even vote next year?

I ask this because it turns out that seniors, e.g. Boomers,  are the most reliable voters with nearly 70 percent counted on to cast ballots as in the 2020 election. Compare that to the 18-24 year demographic  who've only exceeded a 40 percent turnout twice since 1996. Pew Research reports consistently that only 10 percent of likely voters are under 30.  Do you really want to change things so your agenda is dealt with and not ignored? Then you need to triple or quadruple that performance.

 Yet this is the age demographic most adversely affected by a plurality of federal resources being spent on seniors. So what exactly do these under 30s  (e.g. Millennials)  expect when the political class feels it can write them off each year as non-serious threats?

The voting percentages are even worse in the off year elections, which are often as important as general elections. The reason is that House seats are often up for grabs and it is in the House that budgets are made and where economic winners and losers determined. In the 2010 election, for example, barely 16% of 18-24 years olds voted compared to 28 % in 2008. 

My point is that if you really want to impress me and other Boomers, don't invoke a dumb meme and then wear it out. Get your butts out to vote - in every election- and change your lot in life by pushing the political class to recognize you instead of ignoring you.  Even more impressive, put down your cell phones and the incessant, vacuous search for 'likes'  and cut out the social media -instagram blabber.  Instead,  emulate the Parkland students' style of activism and maybe even voter enrollment instead. 


Thus, we want to see action - again, voting is a start- as opposed to reading this malarkey from Roberts:

"'OK, Boomer' indicts not an individual but an entire generation, or entire generation's attitude- and it does so with two words dripping with dismissal. "

Adding:

 "OK, Boomer sends the message that grown-ups have screwed up  totally, and are veering so speedily into irrelevance that convincing them of anything is a waste of keyboard characters."

But you don't get to be "dismissive" unless and until you make your own marks on the world, and not merely as petulant victims of older generations' perceived attitudes.  As Post letter writer Mandell Winter Jr. went on to point out (ibid.)

"The dismissive 'OK, Boomer' is the same as saying the classic, disrespectful  'whatever' - when you don't have a constructive response.  

Not happy with the world you got? Neither were we. So start fixing it and stop blaming."

Want to convince me you've "flipped the script"?  Then put down the cell phones and project your power in the real world.  Tired of all the "long endless Middle east wars"? Then take to the streets and protest like we did against the Vietnam war, playing a huge role in its more rapid ending. Do more than we did in our era and I will grant that you've truly "flipped the script".

 In other words, start acting more like the Parkland students in the wake of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas school massacre, and not like the grievance -filled twerps who spawned the 'OK, Boomer' meme misfire.

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