When I first saw the phrase “Ok, boomer!” pop up on the Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook group, I admit I was offended. I felt like I was being blamed for something I didn’t do, and that my entire life experience was being dismissed with a snarky epithet.
As a moderator of the group, I concluded that to call someone a “boomer” like that was an insult, and thus forbidden by the rules. I ended comments on the thread, and muted the writer for a day. (Spoiler: That didn’t solve the problem!)
It was Ben Zolno who contacted me privately to say he was leaving the group, with this message:
“No one is putting responsibility on a single age cohort. That’s your emotions fogging you. The post was saying that kids see a huge portion of it is on the boomer generation. That’s just factually true. And they’re in pain, and the response of this group was, ‘Shut up, you’re hurting my ears,’ and it was rewarded.”
My eyes were opened! “Ok, boomer” is not rational statement (or not only so), it is an emotional expression. The question is not: How can we older people justify our actions in the face of sarcastic criticism? The question is: How can we, as compassionate elders, respond with empathy to this expression of pain and suffering from our younger kindred spirits?
I felt the need to learn more about how younger people actually think and feel about the catastrophe we face, and about how the Deep Adaptation group is handling it. This interview with Ben Zolno and his partner Alina Huff is my first attempt to begin that conversation.
(Further spoiler: Ben rejoined the group!)
If you have something to say about “Ok, boomer” and the generational divide – especially if you are a younger person – please contact me by email.