As parents of three teenage daughters, my wife and I expend a lot of our leisure time managing other people’s laundry.
Because our children are at an age when I can no longer differentiate their underwear according to their favorite colors or cartoon characters, I often beckon them to join in on the fun by collecting their own freshly-cleaned clothes from the laundry basket so that they can strew them randomly throughout their bedrooms.
Inevitably, my youngest daughter fails to heed my calls because she’s practicing YouTube self-hypnosis somewhere in the house while wearing a pair of expensive noise-cancelling headphones. When I finally find her and disconnect her Wi-Fi life-support, I usually ask her what she’s watching, to which she recently replied with a mischievous smile, “I’m watching Karen videos.”
For those of you who’ve managed to avoid the soul-sucking world of social media culture over the past year or so, “Karen” has become a generic label for anyone over the age of 18 (man, woman or other) who throws an angry fit in public, usually because someone else isn’t following the rules as understood by the “Karen” in question.
Unfortunately for Karens everywhere, these disputes are often recorded on cell phones (probably being financed by the recorders’ parents) and wind up on YouTube, SnapTok or whatever those meddling kids are using these days.
Now don’t get me wrong here, some entitled Karens on these videos spout racist or abusive language, and they are worthy of their online ridicule.
Other times, though, they simply insist that people do the right thing — like wear a face mask, park legally or keep their doglets from decorating someone else’s lawn with organic IEDs.
And, yes, these Karens often “lose it” in spectacular fashion, delivering epic tongue lashings — the kind that my mom used to administer when I was a kid and left every cabinet door open in the kitchen after foraging for Ding Dongs. And, by golly, I deserved her wrath!
I also knew better than to respond with anything other than a “Yes, ma’am” if I wanted to retain the ability to sit on my sitter for the foreseeable future.
I must admit that I’ve had a few of my own YouTube-worthy Karen moments. For example, when a local hardware store clerk recently refused to accept my return of a “defective” weed eater, I asked to speak to the manager, gave him one of the few remaining pieces of my mind and informed him that I wouldn’t be darkening his door again. (I’m sure he was relieved — and so was I when I later realized I had just assembled the weed eater incorrectly because I refused to read the instructions.)
Another time, I mildly flipped out at a local restaurant when they forgot to cook my middle daughter’s order of Belgian waffles. I furiously marched right to the kitchen counter area and demanded to know who was in charge of waffles and whether there were any Belgians I could speak to directly. Luckily, I’m pretty sure the chef only spoke Spanish — at least she pretended to.
My point is that we all reach our limits occasionally and have outbursts that could very well result in a televised interview with Oprah. So when you encounter various Karens, say a prayer for them.
And if you’re the object of a Karen’s Karening, try diffusing the situation with a “Yes, ma’am, sir or what have you. It won’t happen again.” You might be surprised at the Karen’s reaction — and how much better you’ll feel.
And if that doesn’t work, feel free to whip out your cell phone and start recording.