Sometimes, when I need a break from my never-ending “To Do” list, I turn to YouTube videos. Lord help me. Inevitably, I end up in a hypnotic, addictive cycle of letting “next video” automatically queue up. Suddenly it’s 2 a.m. and I have no idea what happened since 8 p.m.
Initially, I watched entertaining YouTube clips of successful “Britain’s Got Talent” or “America’s Got Talent” auditions. Then it became hours of watching Karma hitting bad or aggressive drivers. The last couple of weeks, though, I’ve been drawn to videos of public outbursts of nastiness that are soul-destroying. They are called “Karen” videos and are literally one- to five-minute outbursts of spittle-spewing self-entitlement, racism and hatred.
Enterprising YouTubers are creating compilations in an attempt to cash in. If you Google “Karen outbursts,” you will get 1.3 MILLION results in .46 seconds. That’s a lot of adult temper tantrums. The outbursts range from a screeching customer at McDonald’s who was denied a refund for cold french fries (she was offered new fries), to the blatant racism of a New Jersey woman demanding that a Black couple living next door stop putting in a patio IN THEIR OWN FENCED BACK YARD. She then falsely claimed the man “pushed her.” In a spirit-lifting moment, she was called out not only by the couple filming, but also by other white neighbors, who pointed out she was lying about the “attack.” Touche.
During next-day reflection after one binge, I experienced several emotions. One was compassion. We have no idea what stresses these women (or men) might be experiencing. Maybe they lost their jobs. Maybe someone in their lives is sick or even died. Maybe the lack of control we all feel these days is too much for them. The need to control something, even as small as a refund for cold french fries, is overpowering.
The other thought is about self-control. Honestly, it is hard to maintain stable emotions when the world is nuts.
Here’s where compassion and understanding end: Racist rants, nastiness (deserved or undeserved) and health issues. Video after video has been posted of people going berserk over establishments saying customers must wear masks. To all those reading this and screaming “It is my body, my choice,” let me remind you of one vital, ignored point: Masks are about protecting other lives, as much as yourself. You live in a society, not the Stone Age.
A couple of final thoughts. First, I have some very dear friends named Karen. I feel really bad that their name is now associated with racism and hatred. Second, I find it inherently sexist that 99% of the videos are screaming women. Only occasionally is a man featured in a video, and even then the video is still labeled “Karens.” The occasional “Ken” moniker is starting to appear, but again, rarely. You want to tell me that no men are losing their tempers in public?
Be safe friends. And try and keep public temper tantrums to a minimum. You don’t want to be a jobless, friendless YouTube sensation.
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