I am generationally ambiguous. My very first birthday came and went in the year 1998 and I have been grouped in with and referred to as a Millennial for much of my life. I got comfortable in this space, even though everyone calls us lazy and thinks we’re too obsessed with technology and social media and we can’t commit to a job or gender. Now, however, it has come to my attention that I may be swimming in the wrong school–I am Generation Z. I continue to question the facts because it appears that I can choose whichever generation I want, depending on the source I choose. According to Neil Howe and William Strauss, I am included in the 1980-2000 Millennial club, but if I ask the Center for Generational Kinetics, I am swept into the 1996-now period, which would make me a Gen Z. Quite the identity crisis I have here.
One thing I know for sure: both generations are getting involved in the ultimate generational clapback known as “ok, boomer”. The phrase started on the popular video sharing app TikTok. It was coined by Generation Z as a response and expansion of the discourse that has come from Millennials when dealing with criticism from older generations. The best explanation of the phrase that I could find came from a Twitter post:
This trending slogan and the explanation above shows that younger generations are accepting the idea that maybe we won’t change the mindsets of older generations, but that shouldn’t stop us. It is not the duty of young people to correct and teach the generations that came before us, we should instead be focusing on what they didn’t: creating a better world for the future. I mean, why waste energy (or carbon emissions) on lost causes anyway?
The crazy part of this trend is the reactions to it. One of the huge criticisms that the Baby Boomer generation has of Millennials and Gen Z is that we are all too sensitive; we can’t take a joke, we get prizes just for showing up, and our feelings are far too fragile. The nickname for this behavior is ‘snowflakes’. Now, the tables turn. Headlines like this…
…and (from the New York Post)…
…are all over the internet. Luckily, though, there are also some gems like this (from Forbes)…
…from people who are actually attempting to understand our views. They are also known as the real MVPs. ;)
Anyway, now that so many mainstream publications are covering it, many Gen Zers are over the fad. Before they got over it, though, there were some quick enough to capitalize on it. Remember that pink sweatshirt you saw at the beginning of this article? Shannon O’Connor made that. And then she made over $10,000 from it! She was quoted saying,
“The older generations grew up with a certain mind-set, and we have a different perspective. A lot of them don’t believe in climate change or don’t believe people can get jobs with dyed hair, and a lot of them are stubborn in that view. Teenagers just respond, ‘Ok, boomer.’ It’s like, we’ll prove you wrong, we’re still going to be successful because the world is changing.”
“We come of age and we realize previous generations decided to screw over our planet, create endless wars, mess up our economy and create a student loan crisis; and when we bring up these things they say ‘well if you just had less avocado toast you’d be able to afford a mortgage’ and there’s only so much of that you hear [before] you’re just like, ‘you know what? We’re just going to fix this ourselves.'”
The most important lesson to learn from all of this is that people need to listen to and respect one another, no matter what their age.