Erin Spicer, Staff Writer
A video clip on TikTok recently went viral of a white-haired man in a polo shirt and baseball cap who stated, “The millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome. They don’t ever want to grow up.” This video clip sparked an immediate response from thousands of teens online with the phrase “Ok boomer.” Many have seen this phrase on t-shirts or sweatshirts on teens and young adults on social media. For those who haven’t, “Ok boomer” has become Generation Z’s response to members of the older generation who don’t understand them and have treated them condescendingly.
Generation Z also feels that the issues that they find important, such as climate change and financial inequality, have not been taken seriously by baby boomers. Members of the younger generation are tired of being told that they aren’t capable of enforcing change in society. Shannon O’Connor, a 19-year-old girl, began selling sweatshirts with “Ok boomer” printed in the “thank you” style on plastic bags. After launching a video on TikTok, she received over 10,000 orders. She said, “A lot of them [baby boomers] 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 going to be successful because the world is changing.” Hundreds of other “Ok boomer” merchandise have popped up and begun to thrive with this new trend.
Another entrepreneur that has benefited from “Ok boomer” is Nina Kasman, an 18-year-old college student who began selling “Ok boomer” stickers, socks, shirts, leggings, posters, and water bottles. Kasman believes the older generation is actively hurting young people and that “everybody in Gen Z is affected by the choices of the boomers, that they made and are still making. 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.” Joshua Citarella, a researcher who studies online communities, says that teenagers today find themselves with at least three major crisis coming to a head in their generation. Issues such as the rising cost of living, rising inequity, unaffordable college tuition, political polarization, and the climate crisis are all fuel used for anti-boomer arguments.
Teens such as these feel that making a profit off of anti-boomer backlash is their own form of protest against the consequences they have to face due to the actions of the older generation. One teen, Everett Solares, 19, who profited from merchandising “Ok boomer” said she was going to use the money “for my student loans, paying my rent. Stuff that will help me survive.”
This trend hasn’t stopped at merchandise. “Ok boomer” has been picked up by 20-year-old artist Jonathan Williams, who released a song “ok boomer.” The song opens with the lines: “It’s funny you think I respect your opinion, when your hairline looks that disrespectful.” The rest of the song consists of Williams screaming “Ok boomer” repeatedly into the mic. This has sparked hundreds of remixes, memes, and posts on social media. Teens are unconcerned how older generation will react to this new trend. They are determined to see a change in their future and don’t care how anyone feels about it.