It Goes Beyond “Karen”: Watch This Space
As the saying goes, there is both good news and bad news. First the bad: The “Karen” fad has some unique characteristics that make it especially harmful—essentially, it’s a perfect storm of name-shaming. The intensity of the negative emotions directed at “Karen” and the huge number of people who are abusing the name are just two of the unusual factors. The number of people potentially affected is very large, too: if we count variant spellings such as Karin, Caryn, etc., there are probably 1.3 million women named Karen in the US alone, and probably at least twice that many worldwide. The loved ones of women named Karen are often deeply affected too – we can see this in the many posts and tweets from people who have lost a loved one named Karen and who are begging people to stop trashing the name of their deceased mother, wife, sister or daughter.
The good news: The severity of the Karen-shaming and the numbers of people who are being hurt could turn out to be a blessing, if we choose to make it so. The “Karen” fad is unique (so far), but it emerges from a background in which a certain amount of casual disrespect for other people’s names has been accepted. Precisely because the “Karen” fad takes things so far and hurts so many people, we have an opportunity to wake up and look at the impact that name-abuse has on other people and what it says about the health of our society.
Together, we can not only save the birth name Karen, but also stand up for other people who are being subjected to other forms of name-shaming and name-bullying. And we can speak out against the emergence of new name-shame fads.
As the site Karen is My Name develops, we’ll broaden out from our core focus to include articles about names such as Alexa, Felicia, Chad, Dick, and Debbie. We’ll talk about other ways that we can show respect for our fellow human beings by respecting their names – such as taking the time to ask someone how to pronounce their name, making the effort to pronounce it correctly, and speaking up when someone makes fun of another person’s name.
We’ll also talk about related issues such as bullying, ostracism, psychological boundaries and the differences between abusive and non-abusive forms of communication. We’ll look at familiar psychological dynamics that are manifesting in a new way in the “Karen” fad, such as projection and scapegoating.
There’s a lot to explore about the importance of personal names and about the social, psychological, and interpersonal dynamics that factor into name-shaming. Sign up to receive notifications when new articles are posted by using the Get Notifications button at the bottom of the page. We look forward to taking this journey together.