Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Turn 'OK boomer' into compliment


January 8, 2020

Young people have been dismissing us older folks over the past year by sneering “OK boomer” at us.

Kids these days. They don’t even learn grammar.

The right way to phrase that sneer is “OK, boomer.”

It means, “keep on lecturing, old timer or Baby Boomer, even though I’m not listening because you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I think any older person can turn that around by becoming an “OK boomer” without the comma, a boomer who is OK to be around, even if he or she is slow and tires easily.

We can do that by correcting our memories and listening with a little empathy, rather than lecturing.

Kids, rather, young adults, these days have the same problem we used to have ...

It’s called youth.

Early this year I will have survived seven decades. I am undeniably a senior.

With age, experience and pride has come loss of memory, especially of the painful experience of being young.

We seniors remember being attractive and having fun, not our struggles with uncertainty and doubt.

Just like young adults today, we worried about jobs, whether education was worth the effort and money, and the looming onset of responsibility, even as we wrestled with the tangle of relationships.

We forget that we argued bitterly with the Greatest Generation, our parents, about the Vietnam War. We didn’t have the unifying certainty that our war was a good war, as they did with World War II.

We forget that the generations of the ’60s and ’70s both claimed to have invented sex, drugs and rock and roll, but we recoil when we see our kids pursuing pleasure.

We, too, were rude to our elders.

We forget that our parents, as we do, regarded young people’s music as noise.

What we most need to keep in mind, however, is that we gave the kids some good reasons to resent us.

We didn’t save for retirement, so we end up working beyond retirement age, blocking their paths. We are draining Social Security, health benefits and pension funds at rates that will leave little for the kids when they retire.

We did not respond to globalization and technology by adjusting education for changing job markets. In fact, we occupy a spot in the bottom half in education among wealthy countries.

The kids today are facing the prospect of lowered expectations overall, thanks to our rust bowls, bubble-and-burst cycles and neglect of saving in favor of having it all now.

Good jobs are harder for our kids to find than they were for us. The benefit of higher education is all but nullified by the debt burden of student loans.

There’s not much we can do to correct these problems immediately, but we can start listening sympathetically and helping kids find solutions, rather than berating them for failing to learn cursive writing.

And that’s how we can make “OK boomer” a compliment instead of a sneer.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a semi-retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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