Whether through the draining chores of retail or the laughs of social media. We all have encountered a “Karen” at least once in our lifetime. Perhaps more.
If you don’t know what a ‘Karen” is, you’re lucky. So “Karen” has been stereotypical a white, middle-aged woman who infamously uses the phrase: “I want to speak to your manager!” This is a “Karen”.
No disrespect to anyone whose birth name is actually Karen, but for the purposes of this article, I have put them in quotation marks to dissimilarity the two.
Working in retail is always going to be a challenge. You definitely meet a whole range of customers and clients from all walks of life, every single day. Each day, there is an entire new list of demands to be met both with customers and with management. As an employee, I’m sure you want to do your job to the best of your ability, since not only are you gaining valuable experience in an ever changing and high-demanding sector, but you want to earn a living to support yourself and your loved ones.
As the old saying goes in any job, you can’t please every single customer. And this, means “Karen”.
The whole “Karen” effect, comes under a range of very toxic and narcissistic behavior which our society seems to tolerate. What is odd, is that both men and women (yes, men can be “Karens” too, but “Kevins”) truly believe that they can control their own narrative.
Let’s look at an example of how a “Karen/Kevin” want to control a situation. In a retail setting; the “Karen” wants to have their self-opinions heard to the retail workers. Most recently you can on online via YouTube and see how many people refuse to wear a facemask because Covid-19. Many refuses on the basis of their “human rights”. However, giving with restrictions because of a once in a century pandemic happening, policies have become the norm in the hospitality and retail industries.
Because of the “Karen’s” entitlement, lack of empathy, seeking validation and attention seeking behavior of this very situation all over a mask – let’s call it for what it is, simply a tantrum. She believes in her own opinion that she is right. She is in the right, and that because of this, she needs to tell the world that they are wrong! If not, management needs to get involved and if failing that, law enforcement.
In this scenario, “Karen” lacks empathy, because she doesn’t recognize that there’s others in the store. Both employees of that store and fellow customers. While she is welcome to her own opinion, there’s the not knowing about who is asymptomatic to COVID-19, or the flu, for example. An elderly person could be at a grocery store with a low-immune system, so they could be at risk for COVID-19.
“Karen” may also be seeking attention either in person or via social media in order to boost her ego, her self-esteem to ensure that she has good self-worth. She has confidence within herself. But for many “Karens” I can guarantee you that nothing is further from the truth. “Karens” are very insecure within themselves. They have low self-esteem, lack confidence and have need to shame or guilt others into getting what they want.
In the era of social media, we do live in world where most individuals have their own phones. “Karens” no doubt will have a phone for their “protection”. Yet, yes, “Karen” can use it for their protection, but I see it as “Karen’s” shield. She is afraid. She is scared and is terrified of being caught.
“Karens” are also known for being manipulative, rageful, passive-aggressive, and vindictive. Why? This happens when people call out “Karens” out for their outrageous and ludicrous behavior. “Karens” can’t understand or fathom of what they have done is wrong, whether it is morally wrong, or socially wrong. Their mind can’t comprehend that their choices, decision or actions have consequences.
But, “Karens” behavior has its own distorted narrative. I could go on and on. But let’s keep it simple.
Is a customer always, right?
In this writers’ opinion. It’s yes, and no. Even if you are in the same job for 30 years (which is a rarity these days) you are still learning. It’s the same for people all over the world – who are in the same job for 3 or 4 years, or then decide or upskill or change. Because life changes. Life happens.
Society has to allow people to learn, to grow and yes – to make mistakes. If, and only if, we seem to fire individuals over minimal mistakes because we don’t get what we want. The world would be a very sad, and lonely place indeed. (e.g., the coffee is too hot or too cold), etc.)
“Not today, Karen”
“Karens” do have a place in our world. They show us how our society is heading. Do we want to have that behavior? To be that entitled? To project all our problems onto other innocent people?
The healthiest thing we can do as adults is to take accountability and responsibility for our own words, thoughts and actions. This is something that “Karens” cannot do. They really don’t want to grow up.
So, treat people with kindness, compassion and empathy. Treat those whom you would like to be treated.
P.S. Once again, No disrespect to anyone whose birth name is actually Karen, but for the purposes of this article, I have put them in quotation marks to dissimilarity the two.