THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Already in 2020 a US Supreme Court judge compared using the term ‘boomer’ to using “ethnic slurs”, a UK charity just released a report decrying widespread “age apartheid”, and worst of all I’ve even just read an article entitled “What is God’s Response to ‘Ok Boomer’?”… Turns out he’s not a fan. Putting the divine aside, from Singapore to Seattle we can see tangible rifts between the old and young. These manifest themselves in everything from language usage and music tastes, to workplace attitudes and voting patterns. Yet, is this gap between generations a uniquely modern phenomenon or something much more sustained? And more importantly can it be cured?
Somewhere between a generational battle cry and an audial eye roll, this meme-mantra is at the forefront of the lexical-zeitgeist. Having already penetrated the dizzy heights of the Super Bowl, the New York Times, and New Zealand’s Parliament this seems to be on the tip of the world’s tongue. The expression itself is a blasé condescending dismissal of older generations who disagree with the prevailing views of Gen-Z and Millennials. This can apply to anything from Presidential tweets to people posting memes that have gone out of fashion.
However, while it is amusing, the phrase ‘Ok Boomer’ does highlight the very real issue of inter-generational vitriol that has increased dramatically over the past few years. This ‘Us versus Them’ form of hatred is neurologically hardwired into our brains and essentially translates to: the greater the divide, the greater the hate. Therefore, it is no wonder that we are seeing such a spike in ageist hostilities, when new findings from Pew Research Centre show that the gap between the old and young has never been wider. Compared to younger generations Baby boomers have a greater belief in god, more conservative politics, and a stronger sense of self in their profession.
As such, the societal discourse is rife with conflicts ranging from workplace attitudes to pop music, but anyone who has ever has an awkward meal with their grandparents or a tense discussion with their boss already knows these issues are blatantly alive and thriving.
The current generation divide
One only needs to look at the divergences over Brexit and Trump to see that the battle lines have been drawn over generational boundaries. It would even appear that malicious mudslinging and Millennial-bashing are now an industry standard across the traditional media. What better way to exemplify this than with Australian property tycoon, Tim Gurner’s answer to a question on Millennial home ownership.
Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing the humble avocado…
In 2017, Gurner stated that the younger generation would never own their own homes if they continued to spend their money on “$4 coffees” and smashed avocado. These incendiary comments from the millionaire were swiftly pounced upon by the world’s media and twitter warriors alike, rightly sparking widespread ridicule and condemnation. The implication being that frivolity and laziness is the real reason that Millennials are the first generation since the war to have worse economic prospects than the generation before.
Yet once the initial fire died down, it appeared that Mr Gurner was not alone in these thoughts. Apologists began rearing their heads to explain that whilst the offending avocado comment was not to be taken literally, it served as a parable to highlight the lacklustre work-ethic of Millennials. This denouncement, whilst quite ungrounded in reality, began to take root amongst a certain age group and sprouted into a concept that became quite pervasive across society.