When future students are taught about 2019, teachers may cite the impeachment trials, fetal heartbeat bills passed by individual states, or the fact that more than 100 women were sworn into the 116th Congress. However, the thing that stands out the most to me from 2019 is the division between generations that has been defined and acted upon this year.
It all started with a meme. In a viral audio clip on TikTok, a social video app, a man from the “baby-boomer” generation declared that “the millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome: they don’t ever want to grow up.”
“OK, Boomer,” thousands of Generation Z kids tweeted, hashtagged and even branded on to t-shirts and bags in response. It became our generational catchphrase in response to anyone over the age of 30, regardless of their actual generation name, who said anything condescending about young people or is close-minded and resistant to change.
However, older generations have long been using the word “millennial” to express their frustration with younger folk, regardless of whether they’re technically millennials. Likewise, the reason “OK, Boomer” exists is because many Gen Z and millennials feel that they are not being heard or acknowledged and turn to anti-Boomer sentiments.
I hope that this will change in the near future. Both ignorance and empathy can be found at any age. Painting each generation into a particular identity destroys our solidarity as a nation, as we are all in this together, regardless of age.
When future students learn about 2019, I hope the phrase “OK, Boomer” is plastered on their textbooks to be followed with a story of the healing of our generational divide.