When Chlöe Swarbrick discussed climate change on the floor of the New Zealand Parliament, she was sure to bring up her age as a young politician who will feel the effects of global warming.
“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?” the Green Party member asked.
“My generation and the generations after me do not have that luxury. In the year 2050 I will be 56 years old, yet right now, the average age of this 52nd Parliament is 49 years old.”
As she spoke, a fellow member, seemingly taken aback by her comment on age, interjected: “That’s impossible.”
Swarbrick, 25, responded, quickly, cuttingly and with a quip that only a millennial could pull off: “OK, boomer.“
The comment drew little reaction in the room, and Swarbrick continued to address the matter at hand, a bill to reshape New Zealand’s climate change policies.
But the interaction is another example of how the increasingly popular internet phrase is becoming more mainstream.
“OK, boomer” has become a biting slogan younger generations have used on platforms like TikTok to express resentment toward older people, invoking the name of the baby boom generation.
‘OK, boomer,’ explained:Why are Gen Z and millennials calling out boomers on TikTok?
The retort is a sort of response to the clichéd “Kids these days,” and it is often used by members of Generation Z and millennials to call on baby boomers and Generation X to stop generalizing them and to take action on world issues that would affect younger people.
The phrase captures a “collective exhaustion,” Swarbrick told New Zealand news outlet Stuff.
“You cannot win a deeply polarized debate – facts don’t matter,” she told Stuff. “It’s better to acknowledge that perhaps energy is better spent elsewhere.”
The phrase is so new, captioning of Swarbrick’s speech didn’t even pick up on it, New Zealand Herald reporter Jason Walls noted.
However, some people – namely baby boomers – have apparently taken offense to the phrase. Conservative New York radio host Bob Lonsberry, 60, said, “‘boomer’ is the n-word of ageism,” in a since-deleted tweet Sunday. Lonsberry comments drew sharp criticism for equating a youth insult to racism.
Swarbrick also responded to any critics of her use of the phrase in a Facebook post.
“Today I have learnt that responding succinctly and in perfect jest to somebody heckling you about *your age* as you speak about the impact of climate change on *your generation* with the literal title of their generation makes some people very mad.
“So I guess millennials ruined humour. That, or we just need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and abstain from avocados,” she said. “That’s the joke.”
Contributing: Joshua Bote, USA TODAY; Ryan C. Miller, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan W. Miller on Twitter: @RyanW_Miller