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Andrew Dickens: What people are missing in the 'OK boomer' debate

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Sun, 10 Nov 2019, 10:59AM
Forget climate change - we're heading towards intergenerational warfare. (Photo / Getty)

Andrew Dickens: What people are missing in the 'OK boomer' debate

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Sun, 10 Nov 2019, 10:59AM

If ever you needed an indicator that life in these beautiful islands at the end of the world is not at all bad it was the furore that broke out this week over two little words.

OK Boomer.

Those words were uttered by Chloe Swarbrick in parliamentary debate in response to an older person ripping into her because she was young. It got worldwide attention. I don't know why. I guess it because boomers still run the media.

So when I first saw that I thought it was hilarious. It reminded me of all the times back in the 80s when I hit back at my Dad by saying OK Grandpa.

I said that in 1981 when the Springbok tour was on and Dad, who would have been in his 40s, was saying that sport and politics should be separate.

C’mon Dad I said. Life and politics are all interlinked. No it’s not son, he said. Sport is a game and politics is real life. You’ll get that when you get older.  OK Grandpa, I said. He hated it. That's why I said it.

As Kerre McIvor said to day in the Herald, it’s the new version of Whatever which also sends adults into a childish spin.

So Chloe stood up to an older guy mansplaining in a condescending manner to her because she was young and a woman.  Classic and as old as the ages.

Not a biggie I thought, until I saw the reaction of the boomers. Boy did they go septic. If you don't believe me look at the reaction on Facebook to Jack Tame's doubling down on boomers yesterday. Some calling him wet behind the ears and suited to kids TV. Hello, Jack is over 30. He's spent years battling freelance in New York. He's no kid.

So I'd like to say to the boomers, in the words of Taylor Swift, a popular artists the millenials like, you need to calm down.  As you say, you’re the grownups here. You underestimate the next generation at your peril. They will be the ones who lay you off because your ideas are mired in the past, and that day is coming. After all, they're the young turks that you used to be before you got old.

What was notable was that there were two type of boomer trolls laying into the millennials.  Those who really think millennials are useless and boomers are right on everything. Steadfast defenders of their generation and its impact on the world.

But more interesting were the boomers who would actually agree with Jack’s views on the climate and Chloe’s views on cannabis were livid. They didn’t want to be lumped into this generational stereotyping.  Not all boomers are climate change denying slumlords. How dare you, Chloe.

And witnessing all this vitriol from the boomers yesterday about two little words I started to worry. It's divisive and it’s an ineffective anger.  Raewynne from Port Chalmers, a regular listener to this show,  nailed it yesterday morning on Facebook.

She came to the conclusion that "climate change" is not actually the biggest issue we are all facing. It is not as worrying as "intergenerational disrespect and blame".  And it cuts both ways. Old to Young and Young to Old.  She reckons that a total breakdown in our duty of caring for one another will occur long before climate change takes us out.

And I think that’s very wise. There is one very real effect of climate change and that is the cultural warfare between those who believe it and those who don’t and it’s these sorts of things that actually spark real wars and death. 

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