I just learned that my first name, Karen, is a meme. While I was reading the daily bitch-fest known as “Nextdoor” I saw that someone responded to a neighbor’s complaint with, “Don’t be a Karen.” Huh??? What is a Karen? I immediately went to Wikipedia and found that “Karen is a pejorative term in the Western world for a woman perceived to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is considered appropriate or necessary.” Apparently Karen has been a meme for quite awhile.
I am still unclear as to what a “meme” is, but I get the general idea. One definition is: “An element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.” The “nongenetic means” of passage is often the internet. You have probably heard the meme, “Okay, Boomer.” That is the response of a young person to an old person who is spouting off about “in my day….” A name meme is shorthand for a particular type of person.
Women’s names in memes imply, as a baseline, that the name holder is middle-aged, white, and privileged. Here is a selection of what I’ve learned from my “research:”
Janet can be summed up as “whatever.”
Becky is snobbish, loves Starbucks and Uggs and is clueless about racial and social issues.
Sharon is a soccer mom with a minivan who likes to complain in supermarkets.
However, the longest meme description I found is for the name Karen: “blond, has multiple kids, is an anti-vaxxer with a “Can I speak to the manager” haircut and a controlling, superior attitude to go with it.” Obviously, there is no way I am a Karen. I would NEVER say, “CAN I speak to the manager;” I would say, “MAY I speak to the manager” or, if I’m feeling timid, “I’d like to speak to the manager.”
So much for memes!
Have a good week!