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Get to Know Social Media Communities’ Worst Nightmare: The Karens

Ever encountered someone who’s so full of themselves? Someone who feels so entitled? Have you encountered someone who never hesitates to speak to a manager to talk—nay, impose about their rights and all?

If so, perhaps you’ve encountered a wild Karen on the loose!

Surface-level, Karen may just be nothing more than a name to some. In contrast, its online definition holds a deeper meaning, and its prominence has spread faster than wildfire (or you could say, even COVID-19). 

For starters, Karens are defined as a vexatious, white, middle-aged suburban woman donning an iconic bob hair who acts so entitled over anything and everything. Karens are everywhere. Lately, they’ve become even more apparent following strict social distancing and mask-wearing protocols in public places. They are the living embodiment of nightmares for every store clerk and manager.

Karens come in different breeds, namely: Becky, Susan, Sharon, and the infamous Gertrude. 

Out of all these vicious breeds, the Karens are the alpha of the pack. The rest can never come close to what Karens are capable of. 

The typical Karen traits and behaviors include being over-dramatic, racist, sexist, and/or provocative. They live for the opportunity to turn a simple misunderstanding into a 911-level commotion.

The said traits and behaviors can be akin to social media trolls who constantly wreak havoc on various social media pages and groups.

You must be wondering why these trolls do it.

Much like your typical fairytale, online trolls compete to be the king of trolls (or queen in this case). They are bound by the mindset that someone must have the proper recognition to be the best Karen of Karens. Someone should stay on top of their other troll peers.

So what are the types of “Karens” on social media? Here, all the aspects that embody the concept of a Karen will be tackled. Given that there are still several of them lurking everywhere, it pays to know the bare essentials in handling such surges of Karen-like dilemmas. And full disclaimer—no— you don’t need a Pokeball to tame a wild Karen on social media. Rather, there are several fool-proof countermeasures that you can take to control them.

Who’s that Karen?

Aside from their hairstyles, Karens come in different types, too. So be very wary when treading the internet as you might encounter one. Here are the four most common types of social media Karens that you can spot in the wild.

1. Group Karens

These types of Karen usually lurk in different social media groups. Just like the typical definition of a Karen, they are disturbing, offensive, irritating, abusive, and in some instances, these Karens can go as far as to threaten the living daylights out of you.

These social media Karens can wind up unpredictably on Facebook pages and other online forums to hurt someone’s feelings or to mock someone’s beliefs.

They usually leave hurtful and hateful comments about a certain thread. Sometimes they post something that is not even true to gain recognition or to reap tons of followers. Serious cases have been reported by affected users in the past few years.

From an online business perspective, these types of Karens can be very threatening. With a working setup where word-of-mouth plays a vital role in determining your success, these comments can really hit you hard. This can be very scary especially when your business is still in its starting phases.

2. The Feedback Experts

Yet another kind of Karen, the natural habitat of the so-called ‘Feedback Experts’ is usually in the jam-packed sections of review sites and other similar platforms.

If asking for the manager isn’t enough, wait ‘till they post a review. They post derogatory comments and fake reviews to defame a particular brand.  At times, they attack in groups for maximum destruction. They strike when business owners least expect it, injecting venomous false claims in hopes of poisoning a small enterprise’s well-conserved reputation. 

Take note, these types of Karens are not naturally born as vile as they are now. In some cases, they were individuals who actually tried the brand first but were not just satisfied by the service or product. Their actions and responses are their way of reiterating how they hate the brand.

One of the main reasons why businesses struggle to thrive online is because of the fact that it is really difficult to determine whether a bad commenter or reviewer is a real, upset customer or is nothing more than a troll. That is why providing the best customer experience possible is crucial now more than ever. Thankfully, there are several ways to encourage your customers to leave positive feedback. This way, it becomes much easier to distinguish genuine feedback from fabricated ones.

3. The Cyber Bullies

Just like the first two, this variation of Karens are experts in inflicting pain, mocking, and insulting a particular person or brand.

They are racist, sexist, and culturally insensitive beings that lurk on different social media platforms. They even strike you personally: From the way you look to the way you dress to EVERYTHING that comprises your physical appearance. They use social media as a channel to show and convince the world that your business is bad or does not deserve good credit.

Say, a Karen is requesting a refund because of a small dent on the item she purchased. Her request was denied after it was discovered that the dent was, in truth, due to customer negligence.

An unfulfilled request as simple as the one described in the scenario above is enough to trigger their “Karenning”. What this means is provoking them to post unsavory rants on social media. They can also start a live video on Facebook, and use it as a way to express negatively skewed  reactions about the business. Expect them to rant that the establishment is not respecting her rights as a customer or that the company has violated their freedom.

These rants can actually damage both your physical and virtual reputation when not carefully addressed. So always be wary.

4. The Know-It-All Karens

Know-it-all Karens are the influencer types of Karens. Contrary to what they are called, their knowledge base is mostly filled with unverified information, conspiracy theories, and false, misleading assertions that they’ve probably collected from fellow Karens and social media platforms. They use their influence to spread toxicity across different social media sites and other video-sharing apps.

Know-it-all Karens are the ones responsible for spreading misinformation about serious dilemmas on a global scale. Concrete examples of these are their baseless allegations about COVID-19 and vaccines. They share videos that oppose these concepts. They question the protocols, such as wearing face masks and getting vaccinated. They come up with made-up theories about global issues to try and influence viewer opinion and get them to join their advocacy.

Consequently, their followers will support their make-shift cause. Some people start to oppose rules such as social distancing and other policies. When things get out of hand, this type of Karen can destroy every brand in its wake. You’ve probably watched viral videos of highly aggressive Karens yelling at poor establishment staff and managers, profusely refusing to wear a face mask. 

Not only are they causing a public nuisance, but they are also putting the health and safety of those around them at a much higher risk. Most small businesses are already crippled by the ongoing pandemic, and their refusal to wear a face mask (not to mention, the way they would put their faces so close to the staff and yell or spit at point-blank range) is extremely insensitive, humiliating, and barbaric. Talk about a backward way of evolving!

How to Handle Social Media Karens?

You’ve just learned about the different kinds of Karens in existence. The next step is to familiarize yourself with the best ways to handle (tame) them. That said, here is a breakdown of the best ways to deal with Karens.

1. Employ Rules and Guidelines

Establishing a solid set of rules and guidelines is a must to ensure that everyone posting and commenting on your thread will respect you and your other followers. This way, you can monitor users who act improperly on your social media pages. It will also take less than a minute for you to ban them.

2. Be Responsive

There is no need to pick a fight with Karens. Here’s a better way to control the situation: Whenever a Karen posts misinformation about your brand, respond with facts. Not only does it strengthen your credibility, but it also dissolves any controversy about your brand effortlessly. Also, being responsive on your social media bridges the gap between you and your genuine followers, making it harder for Karens to pull you down.

3. Be Empathetic

Wrong delivery, missing services, and defective items are totally normal. It’s all a part of natural human error.

Similarly, in order to alleviate any negative commotions, you must be able to correct your mistakes. Show them that you’re all ears when customers raise their concerns.

Being able to do these changes how your real patrons perceive your brand.

From a Karen’s point of view, doing this will seem useless. Still, you must revel in the reality that non-Karen users will see how well you deal with notoriously aggressive complainants. When this happens, converting irate customers into happy and loyal supporters follows through.

4. Ban Them!

Albeit being harmless physically, Karens can easily escalate their bad behaviors and evolve into more gruesome online predators (the worst you can possibly imagine!). When things get too far, you can use your authority to ban or block them to avoid further damages in the future.

Unfortunately, doing this can be very tiring. Karens have the capacity to spread like a plague that stopping them is an extremely daunting process. Hiring someone who can help you with these intimidating tasks is considered viable (spoiler alert, more on this later).

5. Never Delete Their Posts

Deleting their posts means you’re backing down from a fight—and a serious one at that. Keep a record of all their posts online. Doing so prevents them from escalating simple issues. Ultimately, it reduces the chances of them sharing more harmful content in the future. The refusal to delete what you can use as solid evidence in the future is quite similar to ignoring them. Use their words against them and you will surely catch them off guard.

6. Ignore them

Trolls like Karens are desperate for attention. The best way to deflect them is not to feed their desires and ignore them completely. Trust us, nothing beats the satisfaction of having a Karen’s groundless complaints fall on deaf ears.

The moment Karens see that you’ve become invested in their gimmicks, it fuels them. If you do the opposite and ignore them, there’s no reason for them to stay on your page. This tactic has been proven effective by several brands and individuals who have had to face a relentless Karen once or multiple times in their otherwise peaceful life.

Want a Sidekick to Battle the Karens?

Batman got Robin, Captain America got Bucky, and Iron Man got Jarvis. What could possibly go wrong when you hire someone who can assist you in handling notorious trolls on your social media pages? 

Social media virtual assistants might come in handy!

From engaging, interacting, and moderating to dealing with ferocious Karens, these virtual assistants are geared to take on varying social media tasks they are assigned.

Karens can be as threatening as they are fragile, that is why knowing their specific traits, behaviors, and weaknesses allow you to devise smarter countermeasures to deal with them and protect your precious online credibility. Remember, there are still tons of undiscovered species of Karens. But with a prior understanding of their anatomy, along with countermeasures at the ready, battling them is made easier.

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