News & Opinion | October 29, 2019 11:20 am

Gen Z Is Cashing in on the ‘OK Boomer’ Insult

Teens aren't just winning the generation war, they've also figured out how to monetize it

Ok Boomer
Shannon O’Connor's line of "ok boomer" merch has already made $10,000 in sales.
Shannon O’Connor/Bonfire

If a young person has recently said the words “Okay boomer” to you, it’s important to note that whatever you did to elicit that response was not, in fact, okay.

The phrase, usually represented as “ok boomer,” has become a mass insult Generation Z routinely hurls at the un-woke. The phrase, which refers to the baby boomer generation, is common on social media, where it’s used to mock actual boomers as well as anyone displaying the kind of outdated, oppressive mentalities of which the generation is often criticized of upholding. Dismissive yet eviscerating, half earnest outcry against the oppressive powers that be and half meme, the phrase has become Gen Z’s unofficially official rallying cry of anti-boomer sentiment, the zoomers’ retort to the boomers’ “snowflake.”

And what does Gen Z do with viral internet memes? They turn them into merch. As Taylor Lorenz reported for the New York Times, “Ok boomer” has officially entered the merch market, and it’s doing well.

A line of “ok boomer” T-shirts and hoodies bearing the phrase in the style of the “Thank You” logo on a shopping bag made more than $10,000 after its 19-year-old creator Shannon O’Conner promoted the merch on TikTok. Another 19-year-old, Everett Solares, sells an assortment of rainbow “ok boomer” products in a nod to the LGBTQ community, while 20-year-old Jonathan Williams has written and produced an “ok boomer” song, which has since been remixed and featured on 4,000 TikToks.

But while the proliferation of social media-promoted merch may make “ok boomer” seem like little more than a flippant retort to older generations, today’s youth isn’t just upholding the time-honored tradition of lashing out against their elders. Rather, they’re fighting back, through memes and merch, against a society in crisis.

“Everybody in Gen Z is affected by the choices of the boomers, that they made and are still making,” 18-year-old Nina Kasman told Lorenz. “Those choices are hurting us and our future. Everyone in my generation can relate to that experience and we’re all really frustrated by it.”

As Gen Z continues to grapple with a growing feeling of powerlessness in the face of issues like climate change, inequality and political polarization, ‘ok boomer’ has emerged as a generation-wide scream into the void — and today’s teens have figured out how to monetize it.

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