Karen wants to speak to the manager
By Terri Wiebold
“Karen” is not only the given name of hundreds of thousands of intelligent, kind and beautiful girls and women, it is a name – much to the chagrin of real Karens worldwide – that has become the essence of the latest meme that has taken pop culture and social media by storm.
Karen as a meme (pronounced mēm) is a stereotypical middle-aged suburban housewife with an asymmetrical bob-style haircut who drives an SUV and demands the universe revolve around her standards. She is entitled, selfish and boisterous. And yes, she has a propensity to request the manager when she is not satisfied – which is often. So, if your given name is not Karen and you are referred to as such, it is not intended as a compliment. “Okay Karen …!”
While Karen as an example of a meme with universal reach and staying power, most memes are shorter-lived and far more idiosyncratic. As explained to me by my teenage daughter, a meme is a funny image that is taken out of context and paired with text to create a joke or funny statement. It is a sort of cultural shorthand that, like all forms of communication, evolves with those who use it. With Karen, as is the case with many stereotypes, there is an element of truth hidden in the humor that surrounds it. The possibility of honest self-reflection may be this meme’s only saving grace.
A meme is a funny image that is taken out of context and paired with text to create a joke or funny statement.
While memes are highly personal to the individuals who create them, they can also be shared and built upon, refashioning the original idea into something else entirely. Or, an image can simply be reposted with a new caption to portray an altered form of it.
“Keep Calm and Carry On” is an example of a meme that started as a simple phrase paired with an image of a British crown and, over time, has evolved into a cultural phenomenon. It has been customized for clubs, organizations and party themes, and it has been printed on posters, T-shirts, mugs and other swag.
Other memes may be bizarrely obscure, referencing a particular episode of a TV show or movie that aired decades ago, but most memes are created with humor in mind. Often times they proliferate by celebrities and social influencers, and a quick internet search will reveal the trending memes on any given day.
While Karen is a meme that we in Douglas County may be all too familiar with, she may be a thing of the past before we know it. Have no fear, “Boomer” is waiting in the wings …