Dismissal shows divide

Chloe Swarbrick. Photo: ODT files
Chloe Swarbrick. Photo: ODT files
OK boomer. A harmless throwaway line, typically flippant millennial behaviour, the usual nonsense from a politician, or a worrying indication of a growing gap between the generations?

Where you stand on Green MP Chloe Swarbrick's ''OK boomer'' quip that, yes, seems somehow to have become the New Zealand political story of the year perhaps depends where you sit on the generation timeline.

Plenty of baby-boomers have taken offence to the line. Many millennials have poked joyous fun at that. Most of those in generation X have questioned what all the fuss is about.

Some in generation Z have managed to shift their eyes from their phone screens to wonder who any of these people are.

Ms Swarbrick, at 25 the youngest MP in the House, garnered global headlines when, in response to some heckling in the debating chamber during the third reading of the Zero Carbon Bill, she fired back with an ''OK boomer'' retort.

The two-word putdown has gathered in popularity this year, seen as the younger generation's pithy response to, as they see it, older people's narrow-minded attitudes to things such as technology and climate change and willingness to accept the youth voice is important.

The ''Swarbrick soundbite'' went viral, picked up by media outlets and circulated on social media around the world.

Ironically, that was hardly celebrated by the politician herself - in an opinion piece in the Guardian, she revealed her frustration that New Zealand's historic law to lower carbon emissions was overshadowed by ''an innocuous two-word meme''.

There is probably no avoiding a certain level of conflict between the generations, something that has been borne out through the ages.

Boomers point to the higher standard of living enjoyed by the millennials, their diminishing attention spans, their reluctance to do the hard yards; millennials fire back by highlighting the archaic attitudes of their elders, and their legacy of everything from student fees to exploding house prices to environmental carnage.

Serious intergenerational warfare is obviously not helpful, especially at a time when everyone, young and old, around the world needs to get on the same page when it comes to climate change.

Was Ms Swarbrick's comment helpful or damaging? Perhaps neither.

Compared with some of the brutal barb-throwing in Parliament over the years, it was really rather tame. Boomers pride themselves in having been toughened up by years of working to make better lives for themselves; did a crack from a young politician really hurt that much?

At the same time, Ms Swarbrick and her supporters might want to be careful about crowing too much.

Dismissing any group of people is poor form by a politician, and puerile point-scoring can detract from the real issues of the day.


Chloe's Guardian article indicated a somewhat arrogant world view that she has attained an enlightened progressive mind compared to the closed minds of conservatives. It will be interesting to read her point of view in 30 years times when she has had to endure more of the knock backs that life can throw at you.

'Either you're too Sensitive, or else you're getting Soft'.

~ Bob Dylan.

OK Boomer Harden up, Given all the crap you gave the generation above you You're hardly ones to talk. May be you guys should harp on less, Calling my children "snow flake millennials" and buying all the houses (so no else can afford one) is hardly stunning behaviour on your part. Is it really so hard to grow old gracefully? Maybe time to actually listen to the younger generation.

Yes, it's provided some much-needed entertainment, but who really cares? Ms Swarbrick is simply an immature young woman who's destined to become the sort of person she currently affects to despise, and whose views would be unknown if it weren't for her premature elevation to Parliament.

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