It’s a phrase we’ve seen time and again on Twitter and Tik Tok, but “OK boomer” has finally made its way into an official parliamentary record.
In a now-viral moment (of course), 25-year-old New Zealand politician Chloe Swarbrick made the offhand remark after being heckled during a speech she was giving about climate change.
In her speech, she pointed out that whilst the average age in parliament was 49, in the year 2050 (the date by which New Zealand’s Zero Carbon Bill aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions), she would be just 56. But she was interrupted by an older member of parliament, saying “that’s impossible”.
Her response, after a moment’s pause, was: “OK boomer”.
As one New Zealand-based reporter pointed out, even the subtitles on the official Parliament TV channel hadn’t caught up, transcribing “OK boomer” as “OK, Berma”.
A spokesperson for the nation’s parliament issued a tongue-in-cheek apology for the mistake via Twitter, writing “clearly we need to start doing all-office meme briefings”.
Unsurprisingly, despite receiving little reaction in parliament itself, a video clip of the moment quickly went viral online – launching a flurry of tweets in its wake:
OK, so tell me what does ‘OK boomer’ means?
Let’s start with “boomer” – which has become shorthand for the “baby boomers” generation, usually defined as those born between 1946 and 1964.
With “boomers” now aged somewhere between their mid-50s and early 70s, it’s a group that are also currently heavily represented in leadership roles in both business and government.
The phrase, which has picked up in popularity online over recent weeks, is typically used by “Gen Z” (those born from the mid-to-late 90s onwards) to dismiss members of the aforementioned generation – particularly when it comes to arguments over topics such as the economy and climate change.
“Boomers” are seen as responsible for the varied and unending messes the world seems to be in right now, whether its a resurgence in the far-right, melting ice caps, or the inaccessibility of the housing ladder.
It’s become so ubiquitous that dictionary.com even attempted to pin it down as a: “viral internet slang phrase used, often in a humorous or ironic manner, to call out or dismiss out-of-touch or close-minded opinions associated with the baby boomer generation and older people more generally”.
Essentially, it’s used to shut someone down by calling them irrelevant – a tactic it turns out that some more mature members of society are not fond of.
It’s 2019 and everyone is outraged about everything apparently, so it almost goes without saying we’ve seen a fairly impassioned response to the two-word phrase – a conservative radio host in the US was widely derided earlier this week after tweeting that “ok boomer” was “the n-word of ageism”.
In a truly shocking twist, it turns out that people voicing their outrage has added even more fuel to the the flames of the trend – righteous anger appears only to lead to a wave of more ironic responses, a cycle capable of feeding itself endlessly (until we find the next thing to be furious about).