I used to tell my kids there’s no such thing as a teenager. This was in response to them justifying obnoxious behavior to their teenage status. (Their retort? “There’s no such thing as you.”) Of course I knew my children existed. Clues were everywhere — chaos, higher food bills, laughter. I meant that “teenager” is a marketing invention and. my kids were using it as an excuse for outlandish behavior.
The 50 million baby boomers — the largest population boom in US history — were the first named generation and the first young people to be targeted by mass marketers. They talked back so much that mass marketers starting taking their cues from the youngsters who had taken control of the conversation.
It was cute and fun until the Boomers came of age and started demonstrating for racial justice and women’s rights, against the war and pollution. They wanted social change.
The younger generations now have reasons to be angry and are joining the old guard in talking back to power.
So who’s trying to pit generations against each other? Some of it is marketers trying to delineate characteristics they can sell to.
In my teen years back in the day, my friends and I were pleased to work alongside our elders in organizing for social justice. Experience shows that younger people today are also open-minded. “OK Boomer” is basically another one of those terms designed to create division rather than understanding.