By Alexandra Catherine Wyatt
*This is a feature article by a Scholars' Life writer. To find out more about Western Scholars or to get involved in our programs, visit the content contributor page.
You’ve probably heard of the “OK Boomer." It’s been everywhere: talk shows, casual conversations, the New Zealand Senate. Kids have used it as a flippant joke and conservative radio talk show hosts have debated its similarity to racial slurs. For a while it was all over the internet, completely inescapable. Songs were made. T-shirts were sold. Snapchat filters were created.
But the truth is that “OK boomer” isn’t just a meme anymore; it’s the rallying cry of a generation sick of being dismissed as Tide pod-eating, selfish kids who waste money on avocado toast and $20 coffee. “OK boomer” is the final break in a rope bridging the gap between the generations; it’s the last weapon against those who tell us we’re lazy for leaving university with student debt, or not being able to live in our own houses by our mid-twenties due to rising costs of living.
The truth is that Gen Z and millennials are worth so much more. This is not new. In the last ten years, I’ve seen kids my age stand up to the Taliban, push for better gun laws, and fight to save our planet. Even before that, there were kids pioneering movements: anti-war movements, feminism, and even civil rights. Kids have been screaming for change for ages. We march. We protest. We yell. We don’t shut up when we’re told to. Unfortunately, though, it’s hard to get people to listen.
There’s a recurring inclination to believe that older generations inherently know better. Ancient Romans believed wisdom was the land of the old, and even now, seeing a politician under the age of 40 is quite uncommon. But time and time again, you hear it. Greta Thunberg is just a little kid who should be quiet. Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg and Cameron Kasky should just give it up and let the adults speak. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is too loud and should go back to being a bartender. Basically: be quiet, sit down, and stay out of where you don’t belong. In cases like these, kids should neither be seen nor heard.
Here’s the thing: yes, wisdom can come with age. But experience matters, too, and that’s not just something that comes as you get older. My peers have lived through school shootings, terrorist attacks, and climate crises. Some of us have first-hand experience in them. And that’s something a lot of people forget.
A while ago, I read an article on millennial burnout. In all honesty, I don’t know a single person around my age who isn’t tired of something. Tired of paying off student loans, tired of rising tuition fees, tired of working in a dead-end job just to pay rent. But we’re tired of a lot of other things, too. We’re tired of being told our voices aren’t important. We’re tired of being told that it’s just a phase, or we’re misinformed, or that we’re entitled. We’re tired of being told that we don’t have a say in the world we’re supposed to inherit. We’re tired of inheriting a world pock-marked with problems we shouldn’t be forced to fix.
So no matter how annoying or disrespectful it may seem, you may have to excuse a few more “OK boomer”s in the future. Because we will keep pushing for the future we all deserve, no matter how much it takes, and we won’t stop until we get it.