Fear and Karen-ing

The other day I wrote about fear and how it limits us and how we all have to take steps to avoid becoming crippled by fear. This has been on my mind a lot over the last week or so. We have to allow ourselves to think clearly and recognize that life is inherently risky; as adults we take on risk to a level at which we’re comfortable. The problem with disease of course is that the risk I take can put someone else at risk. That’s where taking responsibility for your own actions comes in. If I have family and/or friends in a high risk category, then of course I am going to take what precautions I must before visiting them. That’s only sensible. I also expect those caring for vulnerable populations to take responsibility for protecting those populations…without destroying the rest of us. We have gotten to a point where, somehow, it’s been decided that the only way to protect vulnerable populations is to halt all motion. This is self-destructive. Despite what the media is trying to cram down our throats, coming out of lockdown is not a zero-sum game. In other words, opening back up does not equal certain death.

But there’s another phenomenon that I’ve noticed lately. That is the more subtle, less open “Karen-ing” many are engaging in. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that a “Karen” is someone who demands to speak with a manager whenever things do not go her way. In the era of the Wuhan flu, this has come to include those who call out others for not “obeying” the rules of lockdown…wearing a mask at all times, staying six feet apart, playing on a playground, etc. These individuals take great pride in calling authorities to report what they know to be serious wrongdoing. What I’ve started noticing is the implicit Karen-ing that is happening on social media. I’m not talking about the virtue signaling of posting selfies with you in your mask, or commenting on a photo of the unmasked with comments like “What? No mask?” No, I’m talking about the cutting comments made about posts that may raise questions, or present possible alternate solutions, or question methodologies. This kind of Karen-ing is done via the “well, I’m certainly taking medical advice from amateur epidemiologists” sneering, condescending remark. These comments are as all Karen-ing is, designed to shame the poster or previous commenter into doing a 180 or deleting the post, or otherwise taking a public walk of self-shame.

The reality is that those doing the Karen-ing are shouting out their fear and demanding that the rest of us share in that fear. In all likelihood they are not doing it purposefully. However, given that humans are supremely social animals and have a strong desire to be accepted, there is a voice in the back of their head that is telling them that in order to remain an acceptable member of the group, they must aid in casting out those who question any and all premises the group is founded on.

Try this thought experiment:

Many people are afraid of dogs. They don’t own a dog and they don’t like being around dogs. If they have friends with dogs, those friends usually confine the dog when the dog-fearing are visiting. Or, they visit elsewhere without the dog.

Dog owners do not demand that the dog-fearing get a dog and spend all their time with it.

Nor do the dog-fearing demand that nobody own dogs so that they may go through life never having to face a dog.

Where am I going with this?

If you’re afraid to go out and interact with people under any circumstances, fine. Stay home. Do what you feel necessary.

HOWEVER, do not, under any circumstances, presume to think that I share your fears. If we are friends, trust that I care about you and will respect your wishes when it comes to your personal safety and that of your family. And, understand that I will not accept your strictures on the part of my life that does not involve you.

Opening up the economy is necessary so that we ALL may live and do so with less fear about straight-up survival. It is NOT about us wanting to kill of all old people, or poor people, or people of color (in fact, continued lockdown will eventually kill poor people if you don’t let them work…). The government can indeed hand out more money (which will eventually, and quickly, lose value), but the government cannot make the things you will need to buy with that money (TP, food, gas, pencils).

So, stay home. Work from home. Wear a mask all day, every day. That’s fine with me. But (and here’s the catch) STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME SHARE YOUR FEAR. And for God’s sake, stop being a Karen! Nobody likes a Karen.

I’ll be over here with my dog (when I get one). On the beach. Without a mask.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay