Once their millennial children had sat them down with flow charts and easy-to-understand diagrams and explained to them what Chloe Swarbrick's "Okay, boomer" throwaway meant, many in the demographic referenced were highly offended. Even non-boomers took umbrage at the uppity little miss, although many of these were people who talk on the radio for a living and it's part of their job description to be offended.
Their rancour reached its most extreme form in the complaint of one that "boomer is the N word of ageism".
Who was this snowflake? (And my apologies if any of this is offensive to snowflakes.) All too predictably, perhaps, Bob Lonsberry is a US Army veteran, a churchgoing member of the National Rifle Association and a talkshow host. Born in 1959 and thus a tail-end boomer, he didn't just let himself down, he let the army, the church and even the NRA down.
It was just a tweet. And he deleted it.
Most of his fellow boomers thought it was a linguistic misstep too far, but it gave comfort to many others. They were being forced to confront, perhaps for the first time in their lives, the reality that, a couple of generations away, there is a whole bunch of people who think they are neither the bee's knees nor the cat's pyjamas.
Most people could see the difference between the N word and the B word immediately. It's quite significant. The N word is a slur used to describe people who are historically disadvantaged – falling behind on just about every measure of success, not to mention the single group likeliest to get shot by US police when unarmed. It's meant to hurt and it does.
The B word describes the people on the other side of the prejudice, the ones doing the slurring; the people who've been running things at the expense of others since the first of us came to maturity in the 1960s.
Swarbrick doesn't strike me as a full-time professional name caller like Lonsberry. In the parliament of which she is a member, where so many of her colleagues live to fill the House and social media with populist insults and put downs rather than policy and solutions, she is an exception. She is so solution-focused that, rather than devoting herself to finding the perfect avocado, she went to all the trouble of standing for parliament and becoming an MP. And what did she find when she got there?
As a boomer from way back, I can take the long view of our many achievements. We gave these kids the internet they spend all their time on. And we've increased lifespans pretty much across the board. On the other hand, we used up a lot of the Earth's resources in doing so. If the planet is on its way to oblivion because we have enjoyed years of material comfort at the expense of others, then we have to acknowledge our part in that.
Millennials can point to a long list of legitimate complaints about the mess we are handing over to them. They may get their revenge on us when we reach our rest home years – or they may prove to be better people than that. They may, like Swarbrick put more effort into finding solutions than into whining.
It's not too late for Boomers to take the opportunity to be better than we have been. From those kids glued to their phones, to the old people who wouldn't know one end of an avocado form the other, we are all in this together. So our best chance at fixing things will be if we try to fix them together.