‘OK Boomer:’ how a meme traces the rise of Gen Z political consciousness

The phrase “OK Boomer” has turn out to be well-liked over the previous two years as an all-purpose retort with which younger individuals dismiss their elders for being “old style”.

“OK Boomer” started as a meme in TikTok movies, however our analysis reveals the catchphrase has turn out to be rather more. The easy two-word phrase is used to precise private politics and on the identical time consolidate an consciousness of intergenerational politics, by which Gen Z are coming to see themselves as a cohort with shared pursuits.

What does ‘OK Boomer’ imply?

The viral progress of the “OK Boomer” meme on social media will be traced to Gen Z musician @peterkuli’s remix OK Boomer, which he uploaded to TikTok in October 2019. The music was broadly adopted in meme creations by his Gen Z friends, who name themselves “Zoomers” (the Gen Z cohort born in 1997-2012).

Within the two-minute sound clip @peterkuli distilled an already-popular sentiment right into a two-word phrase, accusing “Boomers” (these born through the 1946–64 postwar child increase) of being condescending, being racist and supporting Donald Trump, who was then US president.

In essence, the “OK Boomer” meme emerged as a shorthand for Gen Z to push again in opposition to accusations of being a “fragile” technology unable to cope with hardship. But it surely has advanced into an all-purpose retort to older generations – however particularly Boomers – after they dispense viewpoints perceived as presumptive, condescending or politically incorrect.

The meme arose in a wider context of “Boomer blaming”. On this view, the older technology has bequeathed Gen Z a number of societal points, from Brexit and Trump to intergenerational financial inequality and local weather change.

From ‘massive P’ politics to ‘on a regular basis politics’ and ‘intergenerational politics’

In our latest research on types of on-line activism and advocacy on TikTok, we checked out 1,755 “OK Boomer” posts from 2019 and 2020 and located younger individuals used the meme to have interaction in “on a regular basis politics”.

In contrast to “massive P” politics – the work of governments, parliaments and politicians – “on a regular basis politics” are political pursuits, pursuits and discussions framed via private experiences.

On TikTok, younger individuals assemble and talk their “on a regular basis politics” by displaying their private identities in extremely personable methods, to show solidarity with or problem beliefs and rules in society.

The “OK Boomer” meme and others prefer it permit younger individuals to partake in a type of “intergenerational politics”. That is the tendency for individuals from a specific age cohort to kind a shared political consciousness and behaviors, normally in opposition to the political attitudes of different teams. That is additionally paying homage to when Boomers themselves encountered their very own intergenerational politics within the countercultures of the Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies.

Doing ‘politics’ on TikTok

On TikTok, political expression can take the type of viral dances and audio memes. Younger individuals use youthful parlance and lingo, pop cultural references and emojis to form their collective political tradition. In our research, we discovered three meme kinds had been particularly well-liked:

  • “Lip-sync activism” concerned utilizing lip-syncing to overlay one’s facial expressions and gestures over a soundtrack, both in settlement with or to problem the lyrics and ethical tone of a music.