A boomer of a phrase goes bust | Newton’s Law


Time moves slowly, then suddenly, in this life, and don’t begrudge anyone for having a few thoughts on the matter.

That being said, opinions will vary among those digesting the thoughts.

A post on social media the other day concerned a person moving from one job to another and offering reflections on his career.

The person was in his 20s. The “career” had been 19 months.

Again, our perspectives on life’s passage can never match from one individual to another. Even folks in near proximity do not see events in the same way. They are elevated or defeated according to a filter of expectation or disposition or the giant puzzle of past experience.

For this young man, 19 months might have seemed like a career. For me, I could have barely gotten a Rolodex created, and this observation speaks to my point.

People of a certain age do not need an explanation about the cultivation and employment of a Rolodex, that great beast of a desk ornament that once housed my important phone numbers.

I might as well have said I found a buggy whip to my liking.

Long ago, I stood on the more favorable side of what had then been known as the “generation gap.”

We could look to the other side of this divide and say that life there didn’t appeal to us, the constant race for more, the acquisition of things, the purveying of staid thoughts.

Now, people my age go to parties that they can leave early and chat there about their 401(k) accounts and prescription drugs. Also, can someone please turn down that music?

A phrase has arisen in recent times to address this gulf that separates people one age and another. It is not a term of kindness, necessarily, nor does it pretend to be:

“OK, boomer.”

In short, and it can’t get much shorter, the words mean to dismiss the thoughts of the older set as helplessly out of step with a coming generation.

As in, baby boomer, you’ve had your day.

This has taken currency in the presidential race taking shape, as 77-year-old Joe Biden makes reference to “record players” and the like.

Others in the campaign – Donald Trump at 73, Bernie Sanders at 78, Elizabeth Warren at 70 – will be subjected to the “OK, boomer” scorn.

Baby boomers, like me, supposedly wrecked the planet and eroded personal values. We chased the wrong things in pursuit of another car and another garage to put it in. Lazy us, we never even learned to thumb-type.

Thanks but no thanks, according to Gen X or Gen Y or millennials or whoever cares to do the insulting.

Our parents’ generation, the one that prevailed over the Depression and Nazi aggressors, got tagged as the “Greatest.” No argument from me. My generation gets blame for botching everything. Fair enough.

In my business, I work now with people younger than my children. They’re nice, and I take energy in being around them. They see me, I think, as a fossil that occasionally speaks.

I know the “OK, boomer” line means to condescend to people my age, with some even regarding it as an “ageist” slur that puts us in an aggrieved class. Oh, please!

By contrast, I actually appreciate its wit and brevity. You can overcome some errant thinking with a pithy comeback. Congratulations.

I also know the road between “young person of promise” and “get-off-my-lawn guy” is shorter that you might think. To the young folks, enjoy the one-upmanship while you’ve got it.

Ken Newton’s column runs on Sunday and Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPNewton.

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