The Cultural Origin Of Karen
Where did these berserkers come from?
I confess. I have frequently been pulled down the rabbit hole of Karen videos on YouTube. Who hasn’t? I’m not sure why we love to watch Karen melt down and make a fool of herself. Perhaps it makes us feel normal. I mean, I’ve got my problems but at least I’m not deranged like Suburban Barbie, right?
But what brought on this sudden rampage of suburban moms? It seems there was a time when there were no Karens, but now they are everywhere. Is it the rise of social media? The prominence of smart phones? The polarization of society? We may never know, but I would like to offer my thoughts.
There are currently 3 prominent cultures active in American society today.
1) Honor culture: Baby boomer generation; You work for 40 years for the same company out of honor, BUT if someone says something negative about your girl, you punch them in the face.
2) Dignity culture: Mostly Gen X & early Millennials; You should treat people with respect regardless of race or status. BUT if there is some disagreement, you should talk it out and compromise (but you are not beyond manipulation to get your way)
3) Victimhood culture: later Millennials and Gen Z; Everyone should seek to balance society by overthrowing oppressors and propping up the oppressed. BUT if someone does something to offend/oppress you, you should never speak to them face to face. You should just take it to social media and/or the authorities to cancel/punish them anonymously. They must be destroyed (for the good of society).
Karen’s origin revealed
The modern Karen emerged at the convergence of Dignity and Victimhood culture. In a Dignity culture, you treat everyone as equals. In a Victimhood culture, you seek to define yourself as oppressed and others as oppressors.
These two societies can’t exist independently because if no one oppresses anyone else, the only way to have identity is through your dignity. But Dignity and Victimhood societies also despise each other.
If an individual has a strong sense of dignity and they encounter Victimhood culture, they become outraged by the lack of logic and fact behind victimhood claims because it is so arbitrary.
But if someone who lives in Victimhood culture encounters Dignity culture, they become offended because there is no inequality to point at as oppression. And thus, Karen feels her identity is being threatened.
For Karen, this presents a quandary because she has a sense of honor and dignity but lives in a society that increasingly oppresses her (at least in her eyes). So she tries to reconcile these 2 worlds with conflict and confrontation for the sake of justice.
Entitlement is also a core factor. Karen will speak in the vernacular of honor and dignity when they are telling you how important it is to be true to your word, but they only believe this applies when it’s convenient for them.
As white suburban moms, they have become accustomed to privilege and believe they are entitled to a certain level of comfort and convenience. When they do not receive the “service” they think is deserved, they start throwing things, screaming obscenities and blowing up YouTube with cringeworthy content.
These are obvious signs of a sick culture. I’m not sure how we reverse course. Are we too far gone?
The most constructive responses I have seen are sadly the perpetually embarrased children of the Karens, who can often diffuse the situation and distract their suburban terrorist of a mom.
They seem to have a more balanced sense of justice and better communication skills, perhaps because they have lived with the shame of a maternal Karen in their home.
Who knows, maybe there is still hope for us. What are your thoughts?