In a viral audio clip on TikTok, a white-haired man in a baseball cap and polo shirt declares, “The millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don’t ever want to grow up.”
Thousands of teens have responded through remixed reaction videos and art projects with a simple phrase: “ok boomer.”
“Ok boomer” has become Generation Z’s endlessly repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it, a rallying cry for millions of fed up kids. Teenagers use it to reply to cringey YouTube videos, and basically any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people — and the issues that matter to them. Teenagers have scrawled the message in their notebooks and carved it into at least one pumpkin.
Nina Kasman, an 18-year-old college student selling “ok boomer” stickers, socks, shirts, leggings, posters, water bottles, notebooks and greeting cards, said that while older generations have always looked down on younger kids or talked about things “back in their day,” she and other teens believe older people are actively hurting young people. “Everybody in Gen Z is affected by the choices of the boomers, that they made and are still making,” she said. “Those choices are hurting us and our future. Everyone in my generation can relate to that experience and we’re all really frustrated by it.”
Why its hot: Rising inequality, unaffordable college tuition, political polarization exacerbated by the internet, and the climate crisis all fuel anti-boomer sentiment. It’s Gen Z and millennials fighting back against the “snowflake” tag that boomers often use to describe them. Overall, its indicative of something unique in culture that puts the generational and power divide right at the center of the conversation – almost a boomer backlash anthem.