Light-hearted Insights

Why ‘Ok Boomer’ May Not Apply to the Cryptocurrency Industry

The fall of 2019 leading up until today has seen the rise of an incredibly popular meme among millennials: “ok boomer.” The catchphrase can be used as a response to any situation when a “boomer” — the generation born between about 1946 and 1965 — is perceived as so unable to understand millennial anxieties and concerns due to their out-of-date sensibilities that the only response to an argument with them is a dismissive (yet aggressive), “Ok boomer.”

On the surface, the crypto world is the exact opposite to old-fashioned “boomer” ideas about the way that the financial world should work. It’s based on anarchist principles at heart, decentralized, often anti-government, anti-establishment, anti-anything mainstream. But for some reason, the 65+ age group (literally the aforementioned “boomers,” just listen to the first lyrics of this TikTok song) showed a 41% increase in site visits on CoinMarketCap this quarter, which was close behind the 18-24 age group’s 46.04%. 

This contradicts the news headlines like “Millennials Would Rather Cop Bitcoin Than Disney and Netflix Stocks: Boomers Don’t Care for Any of These,” and “Surprise! Millennials Embrace Bitcoin While Boomers, Gen-Xers Hold Traditional Wealth” — both copped from a fall 2019 Charles Schwab report that ranked the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust as a top place that millennials stored their assets, an equity not appearing in the boomers’ top list.

While on-site visits on CoinMarketCap do not directly equal investments in crypto (we are, after all, an independent ranking site, not an exchange), this rising interest in crypto prices from baby boomers must mean something, right?

And it’s not just the CoinMarketCap site. Our CMC daily newsletter regularly receives comments from the 70+ subset on how they read our crypto roundups daily over their morning coffee.

It’s no coincidence that Bitcoin was created by its ever-mysterious founder Satoshi Nakamoto after the 2008 global financial crisis: it’s meant to be a safe haven for investors in times of economic disaster. And, as we all quite well know, this coronavirus pandemic is currently causing one hell of an economic disaster. 

— An aside: the 2008 financial crisis is also incidentally tied up in the anger behind “ok boomer.” Today, (temporarily ignoring the ongoing economic meltdown caused by COVID-19), millennials are widely unable to achieve the same financial stability their parents had at their age. Some aggression behind “Ok boomer” is due to this undercurrent of resentment today’s younger generation feels towards these “boomers” for their alleged role in creating the financial circumstances that prevent them from, say, owning a house.

Perhaps boomers’ piquing interest in crypto prices is their way of exploring options to avoid yet another financial crisis. Perhaps they, too, are concerned about the US Federal Reserve’s ability to print an endless amount of money. Perhaps their daughter (me) convinced them to write an article for their old job and paid them in Ethereum and they want to see how it’s doing. Perhaps they have so much free time on their hands now that googling crypto prices is that last new thing to do that they haven’t done before in their entire lives. Perhaps their grandchildren are on their computers and skewing the data. Only time will tell.

While no one is saying that boomers — angered by their portrayal in popular memes and songs across the world — have risen up and turned to crypto as a way to prove how hip they are and stop the “ok boomer’s” aimed at them daily through cyberspace, it’s worth noting that the millennials’ comedic dismissal of this older generation as completely out of touch with their own interests is not what CMC data shows.

What we found actually paints a different picture: a changing world, economically and socially wracked by a global pandemic that has forced families to shelter in place and multiple generations to spend more time with each other than ever before, piquing a rising interest in an alternative economic model — crypto.

While we don’t know what these kids’ parents are doing (24-65 year olds, you’re missing the bus!), it’s clear these younger millennials and their grandparents have more in common than youth meme culture would make you think.

Molly Jane is a content manager at CoinMarketCap. Previously the head of news at Cointelegraph, she has also contributed to Decrypt and Modern Consensus. You can find her on Twitter at @MollyJZuckerman.

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