The Rise of “Karens” in the Midst of a Pandemic

  • October 22, 2020

As Coronavirus numbers only seem to incline in the US, many specific stores or areas are requiring their customers to wear a mask to ensure the safety of others around them.

Even though this safety measure is recommended by health officials and deemed the best course of action for businesses that want to keep going during the pandemic, some people object to this, claiming it’s unfair or unnecessary. 

People on social media platforms like Instagram, Tiktok, and Youtube are capturing videos of those who object to wearing masks in public, enabling viewers at home to really see how controversial the mask mandates are to certain demographics- typically, middle-aged white women. These videos usually show the employee or manager of a store asking a customer to wear a mask, resulting in a tantrum-like rant and refusal to comply. 

Social media posters have dubbed these types of customers as “Karens”- a stereotypical name for a woman who is typically aggressive and disagreeable with whomever is serving her. A “Karen” might act irrationally or explosively after being let down with a minor inconvenience, such as, in this case, being forced to obtain and wear a mask while in a store. 

In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, these types of interactions have become more and more common. The demographic is growing even larger as more and more people grow restless and become sick of mask mandates. The types of people who are typically seen to object to mask mandates are unwilling to follow the rules with the claim that they are unfair, or even claiming that coronavirus is a “hoax.” 

This can be stressful for some stores as they struggle to please their customers and keep their best interests in mind while also keeping everyone safe and healthy. 

Therefore, the question is- should businesses accommodate the wants of their individual customers and be more lenient with these rules or continue with protocols and keep the public safe despite these outbursts? So far, it seems like most businesses are keeping their guards up and staying brave in the face of all the new Karens. 

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