Are You OK, Boomer? Intensification of Ageism and Intergenerational Tensions on Social Media Amid COVID-19
Social media is a useful tool for connecting with family, friends and others while physically distancing and self-isolating due to COVID-19. Simultaneously, it is being used for purposes of expressing antagonistic stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination against older adults. This commentary draws on social media trending topics (e.g., “OK, Boomer,” “Boomer Remover”) to demonstrate how generalizations regarding chronological age and COVID-19 age-related biomedical risks have: (a) exacerbated ageism on social media, and (b) further exposed ongoing tensions between so-called “Millennial” and “Baby Boomer” generations in ways that are targeted against the older generation and serve in favor of younger ones. The implications of this ageist discourse in and on society are discussed. Anti-ageism efforts by social media users and organizations are highlighted. In this state of emergency, we must bring awareness to and resist ageism that depersonalizes and dehumanizes older adults and undervalues later life during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.