Dear Evil Skippy:
A radio host said boomer is the “n-word of ageism.” He tweeted that “[b]eing hip and flip does not make bigotry ok, nor is a derisive epithet acceptable because it is new.”
What do you say?
— Not A Boomer
I say amen and hallelujah. If this is true, then I can finally do rap without leaving a lot of dead air when I don’t say that other word.
Love and hipness,
As an actual Boomer, some of my Boomer peers are starting to tell me how much they hate it when a younger person replies “OK Boomer” if they do something – well, Boomerish. They have asked me for a “cool, Evil Skippy retort” to use if they face the “rude insult”.
Sorry. Can’t. My advice to my peers is to stop saying and doing dumb stuff. There is one exception and that is if you are at work and someone is using “OK Boomer” (or other words) in a pervasive manner that offends you and would cause a reasonable Boomer to be offended (not merely annoyed). Age is a protected class under U.S. discrimination laws and harassing a co-worker based on a protected classe is illegal. Period.
The question of course is whether the offended Boomer is being “reasonable”. Therein lies the problem. It is a wide spectrum and overall context will be critical. The one thing I predict with confidence is that “OK Boomer” is not the N-word by a wide margin and saying it at work won’t set off the same kind of alarm bells. The words simply are not in the same league.
You do not have to take my word for it despite my decades of experience working to prevent discrimination and harassment. Word historians and experts say so. Dictionary.com tweeted in response to the radio host:
“Boomer is an informal noun referring to a person born during a baby boom, especially one born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1965. The n-word is one of the most offensive words in the English language.”
History sheds a bright light here. There is simply no record of removing Boomers from their homelands and enslaving them. There is no past and present of incarcerating Boomers in proportions that can’t be explained. There was no curse of elderly lynching. There are no “Central Park Boomers” who were framed for rape because of their age.
I am not saying ageism does not exist. It does and can be terrible. I am saying that we should focus on what matters and not on a trending response used when a person my age does something that younger people don’t like. Complaining about the generation before and after you is nothing new, so let’s save our angst for things that matter.
If you are at work and someone says “OK Boomer” to you and it bugs you – talk to your boss or Human Resources (and maybe act your age and talk in a calm way with the person who bugged you if you feel comfortable doing so). If you are not at work and someone says “OK Boomer” to you, act like you didn’t hear and thank them for seeing things your way. It confuses them every time. (Also, try reflecting to see if you can tell why the other person said it. Perhaps there is some personal growth of your own that needs attention).
Now please excuse me. I am going to go work on my big rap number: “Boomer Got Back (Pain)”.
Jim is available to speak at your conferences and seminars! For information (or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer), use the “Contact” link on the left sidebar. Please be sure to follow Jim’s com on Twitter @JimWebberLOL