Calm down, Karen!

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With Aisha Jallow

Nowadays, it is said, people are easily offended, by anyone and anything. It is like some people feel so entitled to special care and consideration that they become deeply disturbed as soon as things don’t go their way. There is this woman’s name, Karen, that is often used in matters of getting offended. This ”Karen” is narrated as a white, middle-aged woman who demands her ”rights” in any given situation. This name has even become a meme, like a character that is narrating a certain disturbing behaviour.

I can give you some examples to clarify what I mean. Let’s say that this ”Karen” is in a store for some shopping. For some reason she is not satisfied with the way the clerk is serving her. There might be the tone of voice, or the way that person is looking at the customer or even the colour of the clerk’s skin. The reason doesn’t have to be logical at all, it is all in the mind of this ”Karen” and she is doing the most of the attention she gets.

A ”Karen” is not discrete at all, no, a ”Karen” seeks the attention and thrives from it. She is so certain that she is right and therefore she can behave in any manner she wants.

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This ”Karen” often has a mobil phone in her hand and she is filming the commotion that appears. The video is then shared on social media and she is expecting her friends, family and as many unknown people as possible to support her and to give her ”likes”. The more ”likes” a ”Karen” can get, the better she is feeling about herself. Being a ”Karen” is not only female, a man can also behave as a ”Karen” because it is more a matter of the mindset than the gender.

Here is another example of a ”Karen”: this happened somewhere in the US, where a black man was walking his dog in a park. Suddenly he met a white lady who was also walking her dog, in the same park and on the same path. The black man was minding his own business, greeted the white lady politely when he and his dog passed her. This was his ”mistake”; the black man walked in the same park, on the same path as the white woman and he greeted her. She felt offended! She felt threatened! She called the police and was hysterical on the phone! She had absolutely no reason for being hysterical as the black man meant no harm to her.

The black man did a normal thing; walking his dog in a park. This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, at least not for a normal and reasonable person, but the thing is that a ”Karen” is not reasonable. The smallest things can offend her, and these small things blow up in her mind and are causing a lot of commotion. In this case, with the black man walking his dog, the police came to the park and began to investigate the case. If this would have happened before mobile phones and social media, the black man would have been manhandled and arrested. He would have been accused for whatever the ”Karen” would have chosen to call his offence. He could even have been shot and killed on the spot just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We often blame social media for causing problems and spreading rumours, but social media can also be a great source of information and bear witness to serious matters. The black man I told you about began to film the white woman who was calling the police . She shouted at him, demanding him to stop filming her, but he was protecting himself by keeping on filming this woman. The man was able to control his temper through the whole altercation, which I admire him for. The ”Karen” was hysterical, shouting and swearing and at the same time so stressed that she mistreated her own dog. That poor dog’s leash was pulled so short, the dog had to stand on it’s back legs to avoid being strangled. This treatment was also filmed by the black man and the result of that was that the white woman lost the custody of her dog.

Thanks to the video the black man had on his phone, he could show the police officers the whole event and walked free. The one with her hands in handcuffs was ”Karen”, shouting and swearing as she demanded her rights. Imagine if this would have happened without any witnesses, and in this case the witness was the video on the black man’s phone. We don’t have to think back for so many years to remember the cases we have heard of where a black man was abused, arrested and killed for some reason made up by a ”Karen”. It is not only black people who are affected by ”Karens”, this happens to many of us but before social media we didn’t have a meme for it. We only thought of these people as rude and loud.

Some days ago I listened to a very interesting interview on the radio. This was with a Swedish lawyer who also works as an author. He had been thinking a lot about gang violence and why this has grown so much in our society. When we speak about gang violence, we often blame drugs and money as the main reason for the altercations. What this lawyer had found out was that one large reason nowadays is that people, even gangsters, easily feel offended and feel the urge to react the hardest way possible immediately. It is not anymore a matter of getting angry, yelling at someone, telling that person to go to Hell and so on. No, if there is a gun in the picture, it is pulled and the antagonist is killed. In Sweden we have had 55 shootings and killings so far this year. The last one happened last night, a boy of 16 who went home on his bike. He was found dead in a park and no one knows who shot him and why.

Gangsters don’t seem to take any consideration on where they shoot and kill people. This summer there were 2 small kids who got wounded by gun shots, in the afternoon, because some gangsters were after some other gangsters. Some weeks ago a mother and her child were wounded by gun shots on a play ground. Some days ago 4 gangsters were in a car and the driver was shot and killed. This happened in a traffic tunnel and other drivers were in danger. We might think that this is unfortunate things that are happening in the world of criminals, but the criminals are surrounding us now and no one is safe.

Yesterday I learned that one of my pupils, a boy in the seventh grade has to move from our town. He has an older brother and this brother had broken up with the girlfriend. This girl became so offended by this break-up that she told all her friends and relatives about it. Now my pupil’s whole family are living under threat, the police is involved but the family is forced to move to protect their own lives. My pupil is so sad, he loves his school and has a lot of friends there, but is forced to move somewhere where he knows no one. The mindsets of gangsters are widely spread among people we wish to consider as normal. Where will this end if people are unable to control their emotions? Do you know, ”Karen”?