As a generation, millennials are on the cusp of overtaking the baby boomers in the upcoming year. They, along with their avocado toast-eating Gen Z friends, have had enough of older generations judging their decisions and lifestyles and feel that boomers are generally out of touch. After all, these boomers have had a hand in creating these uncertain economic times, along with an environmental crisis and a polarized political climate thrown in for good measure.
Boomers, our largest, and some say most outspoken generation, argue that millennials should buckle down, like they themselves once did and stop complaining. This “put down your phones and get to work” mentality has irked the younger generation so much that they’ve coined a phrase with staying power: Ok, Boomer. It’s been taking over the internet and inserting itself into inter-generational conversations everywhere.
It’s a joke, but it’s not. It’s a virtual eye-roll aimed squarely at the generation that has so much to say about what is wrong with today’s youth. It’s a generation dismissing another generation.
TikTok helped catapult “Ok, Boomer” into catchphrase status.
“Ok, Boomer” has become an omnipresent catchphrase of a generation, catapulted around the world in part by the popular short-form mobile video app, TikTok. It’s been used in a parliamentary speech on climate change in New Zealand, and is being printed on T-shirts, socks and everything in between as you’re reading this, by young people cashing in. (Let’s hope they’re putting their profits toward paying off student loans.)
If you’re not familiar with the TikTok app, which made its debut on the social media scene in 2014 as “Musical.ly,” you soon will be. It has exploded in popularity since its launch, boasting over 500 million active users worldwide (Datareportal, 2019). TikTok is a community where users generate the content, consisting mostly of comedic video skits with lip-syncing and dancing. Content is maximized at 15 seconds.
Mobile apps are the world’s petri dish for generation gaps.
TikTok is worlds apart from Facebook, the choice of boomers – 90% of whom have an active account. As Facebook continues to increase its role as a news resource, accusations rise around its role in spreading misinformation or fake news and being lax when it comes to protecting its users’ data.
Could it be that millennials and teens are so tech savvy and aware of the consequences of Facebook’s data and privacy policies that they’d rather delight in making quirky videos or post pictures on TikTok and Instagram instead?
How about a new app? Respect.
While a lot of us older folks will probably never get the pure goofiness of TikTok, and the younger population won’t be caught dead hearing about someone’s workout, dinner, or matching family pajama pics (eww!), moving into a new decade, my hope is that a new social media platform will emerge that will help shorten the generational divide.
As a member of Gen X, I feel caught in the middle, as usual.
My wish is for an app that we can all agree on and engage with. Where we can respect each other’s differences, learn from each other, and be encouraged to have life-enrichment-worthy, face-to-face conversations about our lives. Throw in some non-fake news, music and dancing, and I think we’ll have ourselves a winner!