Various posts and memes about social media ‘Karens’ have surfaced recently on various video-sharing platforms. Karens, as has been officially defined, is a terminology used to describe a woman who shows excessive, inappropriate, and unnecessary entitlement or formidability. It is actually the first time that this kind of behavior has been given a ‘name’, albeit the prevalence of this behavior in the US for decades.
Based on the videos that went viral on the internet, there are two things that really tick off ‘Karens’. The first is the wearing of facemasks in public. The second issue Karens usually escalate is related to bigotry – be it gender, religion, race, or even age. White woman entitlement and racism were never put into highlight before, especially since hyper-focusing on these behaviors from women (White women specifically) is usually branded as sexist and racist.
The pandemic, added to the discussions of racial equality and police brutality, highlights how entitlement culture affects the American community. Because of this, Karen-spotting has become a national past time since the start of the pandemic. Here are a few of the most viral ‘Karens’ that was snuffed out and canceled widely on social media:
#1 California Karen and the Starbucks Barista
Since there is a health pandemic currently going on, the wearing of facemasks in public is necessary. There are, in fact, multiple establishments all over the country that do not serve non-facemask wearing individuals. One incident, in particular, became viral worldwide after a ‘Karen’ from California took a video of a Starbucks barista that asked her to wear a facemask while inside the premises. The barista refused to serve her, especially since San Diego has a government-mandated policy of facemask wearing inside businesses.
In the video, it is clear that the woman wanted to shame the Starbucks barista. Instead of taking her side, the internet applauded the barista for strictly following the facemask policies. A GoFundMe page was set up to collect tips for the brave barista; total donations reached 105,000 USD. Instead of asking for an apology, this Karen even had the audacity to sue for half of the donations.
#2 San Francisco Karen and the #BLM Graffiti
Racism is another major issue in the US that needs to be purged from the local culture. There are a variety of incidents from both Karens and Kens that show racism and bias against people of color. A countless number of cases exist where the police are called on people who are innocently minding their own business, just because other people find them ‘threatening’. In fact, one recent incident involving a CEO of a famous skin-care company went viral online.
Under the guise of concern, this San Francisco Karen and her husband approached a man of color outside of his home and eventually call the police on him (even if he was not doing anything wrong). The premise of the video is that the man was creating a chalk graffiti of the Black Lives Matter banner outside of his home. Karen and her husband called him out claiming that what he is doing is damage to private property. They also falsely claimed that they ‘knew’ who lived in the house and accused the man of vandalism. Not believing that the house is his own, Karen and her husband called the police. Since the video went viral online, and many people and businesses started to ‘cancel’ her brand, Karen eventually released a statement apologizing for her actions.
#3 Grandma with Multiple Counts of Karen-ism
Recently, a woman from Torrance City was arrested by the police after multiple videos of her mocking and assaulting people of color went viral online. Many netizens shared their own experiences (and videos) of this Torrance Karen. All videos show how the woman harasses them and lets out expletives against Asians. In some videos, she even mocked the other person’s accent. She has been dubbed as extremely racist and anti-Asian because of this. Multiple complaints were filed against her but these cases were immediately dropped due to ‘insufficiency’ of evidence. However, another complaint was filed against her after she verbally and physically assaulted a mall custodian and the person who intervened.
The Role of Social Media and Cancel Culture
What is great about what is happening is that people of color finally have a shield to protect themselves against verbal abuse. It is easy to record a video of another individual showing harassment or abuse against you. This could serve as evidence should the incident be escalated to authorities. Social media plays an important role in finally helping many Americans outgrow this culture of racism. This kind of behavior and thinking seems to be blindly etched into their minds starting at a young age.
People finally see through the eyes of the minorities who quietly suffer and adjust to how the environment treats them. There must be awareness in people that these harassments happen in real life. Knowing that it happens so often to so many people helps in reducing such events in the future. These videos should also help people reflect on their actions and way of thinking.