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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, November 22, 2019
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with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia

Ok boomer


One of the more hilarious yet weirdly appropriate internet memes that have recently become popular is the phrase “ok boomer” which millennials have been using with gusto in arguments against baby boomers whenever they get into the many online arguments, especially on social media these days.

In the Philippines, the latest and most apt recipient of the “ok boomer” retort has been our current Secretary of Foreign Affairs who should be a source of pride for Negrenses, especially the Silaynons, because of his roots: Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr.

Mr. Secretary, a certified Baby Boomer, has been quite visible on the social media platform Twitter these days, attracting as much attention as he can with obnoxious ways where it seems like an alta-society boomer is trying to perform the most advanced form of social media diplomacy by packaging himself as some sort of a Rodrigo Duterte minime. The fact that Mr. Locsin has been doubling down on his strange behavior despite its cringe worthiness must mean he believes he has fans and supporters who like that version of Teddy Boy better but it would be interesting to know what his relatives in Silay really think of him every time he takes to Twitter and assumes his newfound personality.

Locsin gained the distinction of being the first and most high profile Filipino of his generation to be dismissed by a barrage of “ok boomer” retorts after he tweeted expletives at an Inquirer journalist who tweeted on President Rodrigo Duterte’s absence at the closing ceremony of the 35 th ASEAN Summit.

“Uh, did you get the putangina I sent you? That’s the last event, purely ceremonial and short. Jokowi had left, Mahathir too,” Teddyboy tweeted to journalist Jhesset Enano after she tweeted a photo of Locsin sitting in for his boss at the summit’s closing ceremony.

Such crass behavior by a supposedly educated and well-bred boomer might’ve been the final straw for some millennials who then started bombing Locsin with “Ok boomer” tweets.

The Ok, Boomer trend started in early November with a TikTok video showing a grey-haired man, suspected to be a Baby Boomer, declaring “millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome… They don’t ever want to grow up.” On a split screen beside him is a member of the Gen Z silently holding up a notepad with the words “Ok Boomer.” That phrase quickly went viral and in the Philippines, Mr. Locsin and his crass behavior became an easy target for the meme that was spreading like wildfire.

Our society is fracturing because of proliferation of fake news, outright propaganda, and the generation gap. Teddyboy’s christening by ok boomer highlights the brewing conflict between ideologies and generations and signals that people are getting tired of talk and discourse. Given the degradation of social graces and basic human decency, the temptation to put down an entire generation with a two-word response is understandable.

Disagreements between age groups is nothing new. We all do it, most of the time behind each other’s back.“Ok boomer” just gives us an idea of how bad it has become. Boomers, such as many Trump supporters, Brexiteers, misogynists, and the climate change deniers have lost the respect of younger generations who are now turning to one line putdowns for them. But because not all Teddyboys are obnoxious, not all boomers are people deserving of being dismissed by a quick “ok boomer.” It is unfortunate that our society has come to this point.

If you come to think of it, while it was satisfying to see an entire generation put an obnoxious boomer down, knowing that the same remark can just as easily be used with decent boomers (think pre-transformation Teddyboy) also hurts. Regardless of differences ideologies or generation, rational animals should be willing to exchange ideas in a civil manner, without fake putanginas, condescending tones, or an air of superiority.Until ok boomer came along, boomers probably thought they had the monopoly on obnoxiousness.

I won’t deny that I enjoyed seeing “ok boomer” being unleashed on an older person that I once upon a time admired, before he turned out to be one of his generation’s biggest disappointments. However, not all boomers are like him so I’m hoping that younger generations can find the restraint to use this newfound weapon judiciously. Let’s try to exchange views and attempt a productive and intelligent conversation before shooting down and shutting down those who have different, even extreme views. It may be tempting because it is so easy and effective, but not all of the people who have differing opinions are as deserving of an “ok boomer”.

It is sad that the generation gap is literally breaking us apart but as a youngster’s protest poster succinctly told boomers: “You will die of old age, we will die of climate change.”

The youth know the boomer generation is on its way out and see that the way the world is changing, most boomers don’t look like they even care about legacy anymore. Replace “climate change” with corruption and one can see why our standards and expectations have to be higher for politicos who don’t measure up to their promises for our generation.

Take a look at many current world leaders who are only looking at amassing power or wealth and protecting only their own selfish interests and tell me what generation they come from. The frustration is boiling over and Boomers (and pretty soon, my Gen X) will have to understand that due to the generation gap, our rank and age are no longer as important as our performance and our ability to keep the promises we make.

“Ok boomer” is a warning. Old people must understand they are no longer seen as deserving of automatic respect. It is not only because the younger generation is disrespectful (which could partly be true,) but also because they are not worthy of that respect. The same goes for lying and thieving public officials who like to be called “honorable” and demand us to address them as superiors instead of earning the title by being exceptional public servants. The numbers and wealth of the younger generation is growing and they are getting tired and fed up. They are still willing to listen but we are getting to that point where they won’t hesitate to “ok boomer” the lame excuses for non-performance and non-delivery that have worked in the past.

Ok, boomers?*  

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