You Just Can’t Explain Privilege to Some White People
In which Karen puts herself center-stage again despite claiming to be doing the exact opposite
On top of the pandemic, the emotional upheaval inherent to so many Black deaths at the hand of law enforcement is a bit much for Clickbait Karen. Right now, she’s feeling so overwhelmed she wants you to know she has made the generous decision to let everyone else breathe for a bit. She’s taking a week off from hogging the limelight with Karen-ness so others might finally get a word in edgewise. Trouble is brewing, apparently.
This is huge. And it is of utmost importance the internet understands the sacrifice Clickbait Karen is making. As her monicker indicates, producing polarizing content that fans the flames of outrage and rides the coat tails of trending celebrities is Karen’s livelihood.
But even Clickbait Karen draws the line at profiteering from Black deaths in an overt way. For fear of being called out as a bad white person publicly, she’s pre-empting any criticism by outing herself as a bad white person publicly.
It’s not so much that Karen’s skin tone doesn’t give her the right to hijack the conversation, it’s that the conversation should never upstage Karen and her feelings in any way, not even now, not ever.
At what point do you stop explaining privilege to a privileged person because they’re never ever going to get it? And is it really idiocy or ruthless marketing that demands Karen remain on brand, come what may? The “You people sort out the mess I made and godspeed, thanks for making my trauma irrelevant, now I’m out of a job because you have it worse than me” vibe is epic. ICYMI, victimhood culture is Karen’s business model.
Like every other brand, Clickbait Karen wants you to know she cares though. She cares so much about you that instead of graciously putting her platform at your service, she’s just going to switch off the lights and unplug the microphone for a bit.
If Karen doesn’t get to speak, Karen doesn’t get to breathe, only it’s not a cop sitting on her but capitalism. To exist, Karen needs eyeballs and clicks and bucks otherwise she has no raison d’être, no purpose, no function.
The more ignorant she sounds, the more attention Karen gets so she plays the game. It requires no effort other than making her inner monologue public, i.e. typing. The system enables, elevates, and rewards Karens. Look around you.
But what happens to a system designed to favor Karens when Karens randomly disappear? Can reason and respect reclaim the internet and lead to real conversations that lead to real action? Does Karen’s impromptu vacation count as activism or is it pure white fragility masquerading as virtue signalling? Why would Karen need an audience to praise her for undertaking the necessary work of self-inquiry a lifetime too late? Follow the money.
We know you’re upset but no one has time for you, Karen, or your feelings, or your sense of entitlement. Please leave the adults among themselves. Go film yourself juggling cupcakes and dildos, it could be a new revenue stream. But for the love of words, stop broadcasting your ‘big feels’ out loud.
If you’re outraged by the system you make, maintain, and benefit from then dismantle it and build a better one. How about being a messenger instead of the message for once?
Why crowd out smart voices and original ideas by taking center stage with your big white feelings? Why seek validation for educating yourself? Had you known education was a lifelong commitment, you wouldn’t need to.
So is Karen having a staycation or making a sacrifice by retreating to the shadows of privilege she crawled out of? Those who toil in the trenches of the internet attention wars for a living can’t afford to bunk off work when the going gets tough. Most people have to work for a living, like the folks who make Karen’s life possible because she has the means to outsource her risks of contracting the ‘rona.
When your life is a performance, there can be no empathy or compassion, only transaction. Karen cannot resist one last Karen-centric piece before she goes so her next pay check is guaranteed. That way, she will remain martyr of the month, the model franchisee of the ‘sin, suffer, repent’ school of writing.
Karen goes away then Karen returns with an epiphany-by-epiphany account of her week of self-directed enlightenment, pivoting her brand to an even edgier take on the cult of the self. Karen is myopic but Karen 2.0 is messianic.
And then nothing changes. Ever. Who has got time for a life time of Clickbait Karens bleating woe is me in unison as the internet buckles under the girth of their greed? How much longer will this be a content business model?
Why be a persona instead of a person? Why be a marketing message instead of human warmth and blunt reason? Why sing your own praises at a time that calls for humility and accountability? It takes an extraordinariness level of Karen-ness to point at your flaws in a way that makes you the story when you are the context. Capitalism makes monsters of us all and Karen needs to get paid right now.
Dear Karen, the writing is on the wall. The culture that caters to your lily-white ass — and mine — is over. You make our shared humanness dumb, and crass, and cheap, and disposable. Your answer to Black deaths is a very long listicle about your person. It tells us all everything there is to know about you.
TL; DR: You’re not worth knowing, Karen. Yet you force us to look at you, one temper tantrum at a time. And so we must devote attention and time and intellectual labor you do not deserve to addressing the problem of you.
Here’s the thing: If we don’t listen to those who aren’t us, we’ll never find out what’s going on with them. But when all we do is talk about ourselves? It leaves no place for anyone else. Goodbye, Karen.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio. For Karen-free reading, see below: