Gen Z’s endlessly repeated retort ‘Ok boomer’, used to dismiss baby boomers who just don’t seem to get it, reached a high-point last week when New Zealand MP Chlöe Swarbrick shut down a heckler in parliament with the phrase.
During a speech on climate change and Jacinda Ardern’s recently introduced Zero Carbon Bill, the 25-year-old MP pointed out that people her age do not have the luxury of time when it comes to climate change.
“How many world leaders for how many decades have seen and known what is coming but have decided that it is more politically expedient to keep it behind closed doors? My generation and the generations after me do not have that luxury,” she said.
“In the year 2050 I will be 56 years old, yet right now, the average age of this 52nd Parliament is 49 years old.”
“That’s impossible,” heckled one National MP.
“Ok boomer,” Swarbrick replied before continuing with her speech unfazed.
The Gen Z phenomenon ‘Ok boomer’ kicked off this year on social media platforms like TikTok and Swarbrick thought when she used it in parliament, it might kill the meme.
Instead, she seems to have perfectly captured the energy of it – a young politician pushing for the Zero Carbon Bill and becoming fed up with boomers impeding progress.
“My ‘Ok boomer’ comment in parliament was off-the-cuff, albeit symbolic of the collective exhaustion of multiple generations set to inherit ever-amplifying problems in an ever-diminishing window of time,” Swarbrick wrote in an opinion piece for the UK Guardian.
“It was a response – as is par-for-course- to a barrage of heckling in a Parliamentary Chamber that at present turns far too many regular folks off from engaging in politics.”
“When regular folks are turned off, the status quo has an excuse to continue with business as usual. In order for democracy to work for all of us, it must look like all of us.”
“Memes and all.”