I've never received so many emails in one day.
I wrote about how much Millennials dislike the Boomer generation once, and it touched a nerve on both sides. They erupted and voiced their opinions by the hundreds, and for good reason. Millennials didn't like how I suggested they should "make themselves indispensable," and Boomers didn't like that I called them annoying and dismissive.
Now there's a whole new reason to point fingers.
The phrase "OK, Boomer" has set off a firestorm. Recently, an AARP representative used a similar phrase during an interview, which was supposedly related to spending for ads and how generational conflicts over money are nothing new. Here's what she said:
"Okay, Millennials, but we're the people that actually have the money."
As is usually the case, social media does not like to deal with minutiae and the subtleties of language. While the comment during the interview might have been about ad spending, Gen-Z and Millennials did not take it that way, suggesting that perhaps older generations are even more out of touch than they ever dreamed.
Young adults do have insurmountable student loan debt and are having trouble finding good jobs. Yet they took out those loans because they knew it was the best way to find a good job. They are stuck in a loop that isn't their fault.
And the older generations? They don't like being dismissed by a catchphrase. I've noticed the Gen X generation has been folded into the Boomer generation lately, which is also a bit troubling. Anyone who is in their 40s or 50s doesn't seem to have a voice.
What's happening here is a generational war, and there are no winners.
First, let me say this. I don't think the answer is to use a catchphrase and dismiss the older generation. Saying "OK, Boomer" is an act of desperation, and it works as a way to steer the conversation in some ways. Young adults are mad and fed up.
Using the phrase "OK, Millennials" is also not going to help. I know quite a few young adults, and they have generational anxiety about how much they are hated. There's a board game about them. They killed golf. If you are between 22 and 35, you have already become accustomed to frequent jabs about how you are hard to work with, complain a lot about your college debt, can't find a job, and like avocado toast. The last thing you need is to have older generations twisting a phrase around and using it against you.
So when does it stop? I have one idea.
It will stop when we refrain from reducing generations to catchphrases. It will end when we start communicating normal words that everyone understands. It will end when all generations decide there are hardships and pressure on all sides, for every person in every age group. Younger folks have debt, middle-age folks have debt, older generations have the pressure to save up enough for retirement and are dealing with dismissive attitudes. I can't decide if there is more pressure to find a job when you have debt or to end your job when you are not in the best health.
Both seem like worst-case scenarios to me. The answer comes when we admit we are all struggling to figure out how to work out basic life problems.
We won't ever resolve them.
We won't resolve the age conflict, either.
What we can resolve is the communication and the dialogue between age groups.
That's when everyone wins.