Behind the Meme: The Karen
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
by Brandon Ferreira | illustration by Gerald Soria
Karens are mysterious creatures. Ones that wander through society, filled with all the entitlement of the world. They need to be right no matter what, or else they will unleash their hilarious fury upon those who have wronged them. Like store attendants who tried their best to help, only to get the legendary Karen screech, alongside thrown items.
They have been made infamous by the internet for their exploits, being featured on various social media platforms: like Twitter and Instagram.
But why do they behave in such ridiculous ways? How does one become a Karen? Does Karen take other forms? These are indeed questions that need answers, especially if we want to laugh at them more.
What is Karen?
Now for all intents and purposes, Karen was not originally meant as a term for these infamously angry creatures. In fact, once we look past the modern connotations of it, we shall see… That Karen… Is just a name. According to Nameberry.com, a website that lists names and documents their origins states that the name “Karen” holds its origins in Danish. It translates to “pure”, in reference to “innocence”. Depending on how one sees it, this meaning could be very ironic considering what Karens do to most people.
Now the type of Karen being discussed in this article is far from what many would consider pure. In fact, she is the epitome of entitlement. Karens are typically middle-class, white women, who are very assertive-- assertive to the point, where they have to be right even if they are wrong. According to the article “What Exactly is a Karen and Where Did the Meme Come From?”, written by Ashitha Nagesh and posted on BBC.com, they are the type of person who would want to speak to the manager, so they can degrade the workers under them. They are often racist, using their white privilege as a form of authority against those of different skin color-- often spinning false tales of criminal acts and more, which are often derogatory against their victims.
Why is Karen?
Now that what Karen is has been explained, the question of why Karens behave the way they do can be a bit complicated, but once it’s learned the reason is very simple. Karens are born entitled. They have been raised from a young age, to believe that they are always correct and that other people are wrong. Emily Zitek, an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior alongside writer for the Character & Context blog on the Society for Personality and Social Psychology website, writes that entitlement is a personality trait “in which someone has a pervasive sense of deservingness”. This can easily be applied to Karens as a majority of them shout that they deserve to be treated better than anyone else when in reality they are simply another person in the world. More often than not, they are raised by racist, white parents who also believed that they themselves deserved better than everyone else, which then of course led to the resident Karen becoming the entitled child that is flying all over the internet today.
Where is Karen?
Now how do we find this unique specimen among the various humans of planet Earth? Well thanks to the wonders of the internet, one can find a Karen on various social media sites. Or at least sightings and reportings.
One very famous Karen is the aptly dubbed McMuffin Karen, of whom was found on Twitter, crying about the fact that her order of a Breakfast McMuffin from McDonald's, did not come when she expected it. She posted a video on her account, featuring her describing the ‘harrowing’ story in detail. McMuffin Karen is very… Entitled. She launched into a rant about how no one should have to wait for their McDonalds' order as long as she did. Along with the fact that she left the McDonalds' because the prospect of a cold McMuffin scared her. And that the world is scary and that she needs a break. Other people on Twitter rightfully pointed out what was wrong with her statements. There are many people in the world that are unable to get food, because they do not have the money, nor jobs to actually get said money. Not to mention the fact that she is also crying over a McMuffin.
McMuffin Karen Video: https://tinyurl.com/mckarenn
A more recent example of a Karen is the Starbucks Karen, who decided to not wear her mask in a Starbucks. Which due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, is grounds to get one kicked out of any establishment. Starbucks Karen is particularly famed for suing people at Starbucks, for ‘discriminating’ against her for not having a mask. She even targeted a specific barista, and wanted him to give her half of his GoFundMe tips, and got him fired. She later went to the drive-thru at the same Starbucks, and when asked if she had a mask, promptly began to record the baristas, shouting about how she was going to sue them for discriminating against her. For not wearing a mask. During a time where it is mandated that people wear masks, for their own safety. She believes that she is above the rules and safety regulations of the time, which is just plain ridiculous. Just because we live in America, does not mean we get to do what we please, especially with the safety of others being put at risk.
Karens are particularly unique creatures. They embody entitlement with every word that comes out of their mouths. The reason they behave in such a… The ridiculous manner is because they grew up entitled, with parents that believed they deserved everything, an attitude that transferred to them as a result. With this entitlement comes ridiculous behavior, like the McMuffin Karen crying over not getting her McDonalds, or the Starbucks Karen suing people over telling her to wear a mask for the safety of everyone.
They are quite ridiculous, but the more we watch them, the more we realize that they are being exposed to the stupid creatures that they are. Entitlement to the point of lunacy is not to be respected. But laughed at and mocked so that they (the Karens) learn why they should not be so.