You’ve heard of them. You’ve seen the memes. You may have even gone through the heart-pounding terror of seeing one in-person. They’re some of Earth’s deadliest and delusional creatures. It’s a being with an insatiable need to speak to your manager: Karen.
But what makes these people so deadly? One issue, in particular, is how Karens tend to target people of color, which is especially dangerous in the current social climate.
Many actively use their senses of entitlement and privilege, as well as their insistence to call authority figures like cops, as a weapon against these people. What makes them even scarier is that they seem to have no remorse for what they do.
But some questions still remain: Why are they like this (no, really, why are they like this)? And just where do they come from? Let’s get our Steve Irwin on and look at some Karens in the wild to see what we can learn about them. More importantly, let’s see how we can avoid them.
What they look like
One of the scariest things about Karens is their ability to camouflage.
They can look like anyone at any time. While they typically take on the appearance of a middle-aged white woman, with a haircut and sense of style that usually leaves a lot to be desired, older and younger Karens alike are still possible.
Yes, people’s fears are coming to life, they’re evolving.
Not only that, but they’ve even branched off into a masculine subspecies known as “Kevins.” Don’t be fooled by their new appearances, they’re still just as dangerous.
Their wild behavior
Yes, their behavior is definitely wild, but this is also about their behavior in public. We’ve all seen the memes in their cringy glory. We’ve all judged their style or rather lack of it. For those who aren’t aware, here are some of the main traits that set Karens apart from other fauna in the animal kingdom.
The most obvious one is their sense of entitlement. They want to speak to the manager or some other authority figure, and they want to do so now. They think they’re above the masses and society’s rules, yet expect other people to follow them.
Karens are the kind of people who seem to be rude to service workers for no reason.
Considering how difficult it is to work a service job of any kind already, this makes Karens just downright nasty. After all, you can likely tell a lot about a person from how they treat service workers, who play an important role in many jobs.
Here’s another Karen in their natural habitat, doing just what they’re famous for:
Karens have also become infamous on the internet for not following COVID-19-related regulations, such as wearing face masks or maintaining social distancing. These Karens are sometimes categorized into a new subspecies called “corona Karens.”
They’ve also adopted the habit of spewing venomous particles at people to cause sickness, usually after being told to follow coronavirus regulations.
And by “spewing venomous particles,” I mean spitefully coughing at people. A real testament to their nastiness.
This leads us to another defining trait of Karens: their utter hypocrisy. While they’re willing to call out everyone and everything that even makes them the slightest bit uncomfortable, they’re notably ignorant of the incredible annoyances they themselves are.
And of course, the one trait that makes them just plain awful: their racist tendencies.
This is probably fueled by the fact that they can’t live out their fantasies of living in the Old South and acting like Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone With The Wind,” as if they could be even a bit as glamorous as Scarlett.
The only thing worse than their uneducated brains is their willingness to spit out their stupidity at any given chance they get. Unfortunately, they’re not above spewing terrible slurs or toxic remarks at people either.
More than a meme
No matter who they are or what they look like, people with “Karen” characteristics are more than just the people in those disturbing videos on social media.
For those who don’t have people around to defend them, being confronted by such a person can truly be a terrible experience.
Considering how often Karens are to get the police involved over the most insignificant matters, and how they tend to target people of color, this makes for some dangerous possibilities considering the times.
The influence of systemic racism in this country makes Karens calling the police a terrifying weapon and an equally scary experience for people of color. By involving police even over minor inconveniences, this can make a situation unnecessarily escalate.
It’s arguably these people’s senses of entitlement, hypocrisy, and delusional nature, that make them so toxic to others. With these mindsets so deeply ingrained in them, it affects many of their main behaviors.
Even though many people regard Karens as a meme, and they may seem like an annoying person, encountering such a toxic individual can be legitimately scarring for some people.
In a time where many people are divided and police brutality is rampant, it’s important to be conscious of the effects these people can have.
How to deal with a Karen
If you have to deal with the wild beast that is a Karen (or worse they come to you), here are some survival tips. In the end though, the best thing you can do is to ignore their delusional raving, keep calm, and carry on.
When confronted by them, try ignoring them at first. If that doesn’t work, one great way to survive is to try and ask others for help. The Karen is really just a prey animal that tries to act like a predator, so ganging up on them with witnesses is a good way to ward them off.
If you’re in a situation where an authority figure like a manager or police officer is involved, just cooperate, but be careful. In most cases though, Karen will get caught in their lie and break down.
One of the best ways to defeat a Karen is to give them a taste of their own medicine. No, I don’t mean get another Karen. No one needs that. If you’ve got a friend or can find someone who’s got some privilege and influence, getting them to help will usually turn that Karen quiet.
Whatever you do, don’t escalate the situation, and don’t try to reason with them. Karen’s are too far gone, there’s no getting through to them.
If anything, it just gives them more ammunition to use against you. The best way to defeat a Karen is to have them get caught in their lies and get them to show just how empty their claims are.
It’s a wild world out there
Karens, Beckys, Kevins, whatever you call those toxic people, they’re not just a cringy caricature you hear about in the media. Despite their ludicrous nature, they’re still extremely toxic people that can pose a threat to members of marginalized communities.
Now that America’s issues of police brutality and systemic racism are coming to the fore, the last thing the world needs are entitled racists who get upset at the mildest inconvenience (which often is just to preserve the well-being of those around them).
Remember, if you encounter someone like them, the important thing is to either try to ignore them or band together to expose their hypocrisy.
Now to answer a question I’m sure most of you are thinking: “If I know someone named Karen, are they really a ‘Karen’?”
And to that I say, sometimes a name is just a name. It’s their actions that matter, so don’t go off calling your friends named Karen and telling them that they’re…well, “Karens.” They’re better than that.