My So-Karen Life

I know Karens are hard. As a member of Gen X, I grew up surrounded by them.

Comments: 191

  1. Is this trying to make 'Karen' a thing? As a Gen-Xer born the same year as the writer, I have absolutely no idea what she is talking about here. I also recall only one person in my high school named Karen. The name seems way more Boomer than Gen-X to my ear.

  2. @htn It was all about the "Jennifers" in Gen X girldom and we all know it.

  3. @htn Same here. I'm a Gen-Xer and there's nothing about this piece that rings true to my experiences growing up, or now, for that matter. (I suspect that this means the author would categorize me as a Karen or maybe an Alexandra. Who knows?) I don't think any of my women friends fall neatly into any (or several) of these categories. And guess what? A big chunk of my friends growing up were boys, are men. I'm glad my experiences weren't limited to these categories the author seems intent in foisting on us. And wow - hey editor - I think the piece was supposed to come off as funny with the names all flying around, but it just reads as messy.

  4. @Barton I dated 3 Jennifers in a row and was born right around when the author did. Only knew a single Karen - that was my boomer cousin's name. Sounds like her school was very different than mine, but it absolutely grates that she thinks Karen as the name when Jennifer [or fer chrissakes Heather] would be more accurate.

  5. This has nothing to do with Gen X and everything to do with how horrible pre-teen suburban girls can be, no matter the generation. Though, I love the reminder about how much I loved Caddie Woodlawn books.

  6. I have never heard of the "Karen" thing either. I should probably research it quickly, lest it fade away like last month's meme. Gen-Z is just looking for something to complain about. They have boxed themselves in with tight political correctness doctrines where any misstep in the past is seen as cause for eviction from the clan - regardless of social changes over time. The Gen-Z folks I see are no more noble than any other generation and definitely far more self-centered. They are also much less likely to have summer or part-time jobs - thus distancing themselves from the necessities of existence. For Boomers, our bike racks at school were packed every day. Today it is hard to tell if school is in session by looking at the bike rack, but easy to tell by looking at the parking lot.

  7. @John really? its easy to tell by looking at the parking lot? most gen z kids are too busy mooching off their parents for rides to be bothered with getting their licenses.

  8. Sorry, but I find this whole generation naming thing, with sweeping generalizations about shared characteristics, to be trite and silly, nonsense that's almost as ridiculous as astrology. It wouldn't even be worth commenting on if it weren't for the fact that these clickbait articles about Gen this and Boomer that create a fair amount of intergenerational rancor, not to mention disrespect. It's not really in the American character to respect one's elders quite as much as the Asians do, but it would be nice if we could split the difference and meet somewhere in the middle. No, I'm not a Boomer, and it irks me even more that I feel I have to qualify that or be labeled a fuddy-duddy. In my opinion, we make too much of our differences, and too little of what unifies us as a species and a nation in general. And that's a huge cause of the unnecessary cultural strife we slog through every day.

  9. @James Spot on!

  10. I agree. This comment is the voice of Gen X.

  11. All these generalizations -- so silly and disrespectful. Now let me tell you about "the Asians"!

  12. I loved this piece because it is so self-awarely wry and self-deprecating in its indictment of the "normies"—by Urban Dictonary's definition. This essay also reminded me of a lecture to Gresham College by the SF author Neal Stephen republished in his collection "Some Remarks". Sarahs are nerds and, now, geeks by his definition: """Twenty years ago, we called them nerds, and we despised them; we didn’t like the power that they seemed to have over the rest of us, and we identified them as something different from normal society. Now, we call them geeks, and we like them just fine, because they are us. Nerds were limited to math and science and computers. Geeks also do those kinds of things—which isn’t saying much, because everyone works with computers all the time now—but geeks can also be experts on welding or Civil War battles or fine cabinetmaking. Everyone gets, now, that this is how society is going to work, and as long as geeks bathe frequently enough and don’t commit the faux pas of geeking out at the wrong time, in the wrong company, it’s okay. It’s better than okay. It’s desirable. We’re all geeks now.""" Thanks for geeking out with us!

  13. @Jason Clinton "...self-awarely wry and self-deprecating in its indictment of the "normies""... exactly why I kept shaking my head and thinking "what IS this drivel? Self-obsessed, more like it, with one's own sly cuteness that only people just like her will "get." Isn't that special.

  14. A sad article...The author seems to be inclined to categorize and judge other people - something we all do. But it's a habit that can get in the way of getting to know other people as they really are. Most people, once you get to know them, are full of surprises. I can't help wondering, reading about how this author doesn't like Karens or Jeans or Lindas or girls from families with more money or different ideas...How does she like herself ?

  15. Somewhere in there I got lost. Not so bad an essay it I just surfed through it not trying to keep track of the names.

  16. As a Gen Xer, I can only respond: Meh. Whatever.

  17. I reread this article a few times and I still have no idea what the author is saying. She likes to categorize and label other women. She seems profoundly bitter.

  18. @Jonathan W This is a well written POV on growing up as a girl in the 70s-80s USA. Probably not something you'd have a lot of experience with... it's ok though, most people saw the humor behind it, it's not imperative you find it funny.

  19. I knew far more Debbies than I did Karens (and I’m 3 years older than the author). Maybe Debbies are another thing - though I have no idea what that ‘thing’ would be!

  20. @Vince Now I'm pining for the Heathers.

  21. @rbyteme So funny. #Neverheather

  22. @Vince Aloof, fun-loving, up for anything. Is married to a Gar/Gerald

  23. It took... what? A whole month for Generation X to realize none of this was even a tiny bit about them? That’s so Gen X. Stay out this, Karen — this is between your kids and your dad.

  24. @Michael Are you kidding... We Xer's have understood from the beginning that we'd never have anything be about us. Our parent's generation was always the biggest around in our young lives - everything was all about them from the time they were children until just recently - most of the products, the movies, the TV had to be things they would like because they controlled the ad revenue. Now just when they are waning the Millenials are there to be the next biggest group. We're still stuck on the fringes and always will be, but that's OK with us. We understand what it's like to have to entertain ourselves, we've been doing it our whole lives.

  25. @Mystic Spiral I love this comment with my whole heart. But also, are some of the commenters aware that "Ok, Karen" is a thing and this is not about names, or even generations?

  26. What's truly great is that at my advanced age in this hellhole of a city I really like my wife being my closest friend. I know, I know ... "OK Boomer."

  27. clever, wry, funny writing

  28. I was born in 1968 and have no idea what this writer is talking about.

  29. @Bryant I was born in 1967 and I know exactly what she is talking about.

  30. @Bryant. I was born a couple years later and wonder where the Jennifers are.

  31. 1966 here; same reaction to the piece. No idea whatsoever.

  32. My name is Karen. I was born in 1969. I have no idea where you got your ideas for this piece but calling out people based on a first name is mean spirited and unnecessary.

  33. @Karen: I agree!

  34. @Karen Relax #karen, it’s humor and a way of distilling different toes of white suburban women down into stereotypes. I mean weren’t all Gen X women raised in the east coast suburbs and went to a liberal college only to move to Manhattan after graduating? Sounds like it from this article....

  35. Before you tell Karen to chill and take a joke, please take a moment to imagine how it would feel to have your name used as a mean-spirited meme. There is nothing truly funny about being snarky.

  36. I don't know if the NYTimes readership is quite ready for this level of snark... Comments section is now open; we shall see.

  37. This is not a thing.

  38. @Agarre Unfortunately, it is very much "a thing" and has been for about two years now. A simple query "karen meme" in your search-engine-of-choice will reveal how ubiquitous it has become.

  39. I used to teach K-8 and this reminded me of the cattiness of that age. That an adult - even a young adult -would write this as emblematic of her generation is terribly disappointing. Grow up, stop thinking in stereotypes, and be kind instead of disparaging. Was this supposed to be humor?

  40. I agree with your general take on the essay at hand, but to describe the author as a young adult? She’s fifty!

  41. This is ridiculous. The name Karen hit its peak in 1956. By the late 1960s it just wasn't a very popular name. A very strange premise for an essay.

  42. @Snugglebug It’s a hashtag in meme culture, not her invention.

  43. @LT No, she writes about Karens as part of her generation. She was born in 1969. It makes no sense if these Karens are purely metaphorical. Well, it didn't make any sense anyway.

  44. I feel like I’ve been hit with a blunt instrument on the back of my head. I can usually handle the heavy stuff. I’m a Karenautical engineer by training. I couldn’t follow this.

  45. @Californian Thank you. At a certain point, tl;dr

  46. "Sure, the Karens wore black overcoats and Emilys wore bright ones and the Sarahs wore shearling denim and the Alexandras were all drowning in scarves. But these were just costumes... Aura-wise, we were clones." This sixty-three year old man has lived in diverse cities and traveled extensively. The above statement, with some expanded considerations on the wardrobe and aura, is true for most of the world's population. What is it about our species that we invest so much in minuscule differences? Still, as a boy who once or twice fell in love with a Karen, there's a familiar aftertone in this snark.

  47. Names aside, there's definitely a mainstream suburban female-ness that can be alienating to anyone who's not part of it. I don't know that Generation X does it in any particular way. It's just that Gen X women (if upper middle class and white) are now the ones who have advanced to the stage where they can try to run EVERYBODY. A 25-year-old with that temperament can only get away with running other 25-year-olds, but a 50-year-old can terrorize multiple businesses and community organizations.

  48. @Maria Not to mention waitstaff when it comes time to split the check.

  49. Umm.. what was that? I’m sorry I got lost halfway through. Clearly this belongs in a personal diary or in a discussion with a therapist.

  50. @Californian I couldn't agree more!

  51. What a judgmental, mean article. Go away, lady.

  52. Ok Xer. Introspective much?

  53. @John I think the epithet to be used against our cohort -- inasmuch as its target has a say in such things -- should be "Whatever, Xer."

  54. 75% of her school cohort was Karens, apparently. Was the Times's fact checking department on a coffee break here?

  55. this is hilarious

  56. @NR Thank you! I'm so stunned that everyone is so busy being offended over a piece of hilarious satire. Guessing it cut too on-the-bone for many. I'm an elder Millenial, and The Jennifers and The Ashleys held the center majority, with the Katies in the Karen position, with Erins so often magnificently personable :) Find the light, people. It's a satirical piece about growing up.

  57. I was thoroughly mystified, not offended, by this piece, and the reason is not that it cut too close to the bone, but the opposite: it didn’t ring true on any level. And I’m close to the author in age and from the very same state.

  58. Studies have shown a strong corelation between declining fertility rates and receptivity of satire. Furthermore, scientists suggest that a latent ability to laugh at oneself may lead to social isolation, as well as the perpensity of drawn out Facebook rants with multiple edits at 3am.

  59. This is the most sexist thing you will read all year. Basically the author is celebrating the worst tendency of women to nit-pick and tear down other women. Just stop.

  60. @Silvie. As if the tendency to tear down other women were limited to a single generation.

  61. To me, this is a story about people with "normal" names. The Joannas live in another galaxy!

  62. I’m not sure why something like this is in the New York Times. Seems more suited to the ‘girls magazines’ of the 1960s and 70s, next to the makeovers and articles on how to part your hair. If being surrounded by annoying white girl stereotypes was the drama and trauma of the writer’s young life she should just count her blessings and move on to do something a bit more useful and less self-indulgent than this kind of writing. Like picking up trash at bus stops or shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk.

  63. I think the goal is humor of some kind, but I find this piece incredibly judgmental, reductive, and mostly trading in stereotypes, not entirely out of character for this publication, but off-putting nonetheless.

  64. @David "humor of some kind" is gold, just ... gold

  65. I agree that this has nothing to do with Gen-X at all! This kind of horrible behavior by pre-teen and teen suburban girls has been going of forever. It was something that existed in the 1960's when I was in high school and will exist where and when ever that age cohort of suburban girls exist and are lumped together. If you think they are horrible to each other only consider what they do to the boys that share their age cohort, classes and middle and high schools with them. More than a little of the misogamy women complain about gets its start whey young boys are the victims of these predatory packs of ferrel girls.

  66. @Richard From Massachusetts: Yeah, but each of us thinks that the Karens of our generation were worse than any other generation's.

  67. That's funny. In the Jewish community our Karens are all called Smanthas. Yea you know who those are, selfish, soccer helicopter moms that will tell a foreign (not theirs) kid to move away from the window for fear the kids might fall out, or move away from the fireplace for fear the kid might burn. We had our own. Not fun at all. Ours were educated into the Samantha hood by movies like 16 Candles and Pretty in Pink where Samanthas (as embodied by Molly Ringwald), educated girls on how to be a Samantha (or a JAP, Jewish American Princess). Too bad that now that we are all getting old, they still remain the same Samanthas we all did not friend in middle school.

  68. @AutumnLeaf In Pretty in Pink, Molly Ringwald played a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Definitely not a princess or anything close.

  69. Thanks. I needed this today. If you don't relate to this article, you are probably a lucky person.

  70. I'm also vintage 1969. Sorry to say, the author's experiences weren't universal. "Karen" where I went to school on Long Island connoted a sort of awkward ugly duckling. The generic kids were Jennifer, or maybe Alyssa/Melissa/Marisa, some sort of "-issa".

  71. I slogged through this, boring though it was, trying to understand what was driving the author's seeming obsession with pre- and adolescent girls' social habits. Shunning and cattiness is not necessarily attached to a name, or even a generation. Learning to navigate these emotional waters is supposed to be what growing up is about. Looking for “best friends” in this group is pointless. I never tried and got along fine. It's a shame the author still carries such resentment for what should be long past.

  72. I started out thinking this article might be clever and humorous. Instead, I got bored half-way through and stopped reading. I'm not sure what the point was supposed to be. Every generation has Karens. It is what it is. We have much bigger fish to fry.

  73. When started school in 1955 there were 4 JoAnnes in my kindergarten class of 16 girls. Is that supposed t mean something like the Karen's? Janet, Linda and Susan were also popular. Never thought of girls as being represented by a particular style name

  74. Rarely have i seen such a large collection of stereotypes gathered in one place. Never knew that Karen was a diss. What amuses me is how many times over the past 50 years I have mistakenly been called Karen. I always assumed it was because my two-syllable name had a similar 2nd syllable, but perhaps some narrow-minded fools have been making an inside joke at my expense all this time.

  75. @rbyteme Sounds like a Karen in denial.

  76. Gen-Xer here. In my graduating class of 100 there were no Karens. There were, however, 6 Jennifers. There were also 3 Jennifers in my bunk at camp (out of 12 of us). However I never thought of them as one person. I recall one was very into athletics, another, not at all; some were shy, some not...There is no such thing as type of person based on name. The people I know who bear my name are as varied as humanity itself.

  77. @mci “Karen” is not to be taken literally, it’s symbolic for a type of person.

  78. @mci YES! My class of 1400 had just 1 Karen. Literally 97 Jennifers.

  79. Is this article emblematic of the earlier Gen Xers? I’m from the tail end of that generation, and this was definitely not my social landscape. My peers and I were steeped in disillusionment, defiance, and the starkly painful emotions that boomers repressed. Yes, there were groups of people who seemed inoculated to the social current and were fully bought-in to the institutions that many of us found meaningless— but all the icons and influencers of the time were creatively exposing the heartlessness of the mainstream. We were dedicated to tearing down what was established, but we were missing a vision to move toward. That is what millennials are bringing to the table, and I often think that must be partly due to the fact that they were raised by people who challenged the status quo.

  80. You ask is this article emblematic of the early Gen-Xers. I can answer your question with a resounding No! Not at all. I was born in 1966, three years earlier than the author of the essay at hand, in the very same state as her (Massachusetts), and absolutely nothing in the essay rings true to me. Nothing here resonates with my own lived experience. In fact, I have absolutely no idea what she’s going on about.

  81. @Joy Malek Totally agree... well said. The fear I have for millennials is that when this idealism is inevitably tempered by time and the inertia of history, they will retreat into the same abyss of selfishness and gratification so many of their parents' generation did. Real change is incremental.

  82. @David Salter You are a man, your social lens I the years cited was, I’ll bet, very different from that of the author.

  83. I wondered, does this article bug me just because my name is synonymous with abhorrent behaviour? But after reading the comments, I realized, no, I wasn't alone. Rather than reveling in a younger generation's stereotyping, it might be interesting to find out why THEY are so frustrated. Do they feel powerless? Lack basic work benefits like fair pay, health insurance, paid leave? Or maybe they, like many of us, wish people were more respectful of their fellow humans, regardless of age, income, or title. Maybe it's not a Karen problem, but a human problem.

  84. Jeez people, don’t you realize that these names and the people they represent are supposed to be stereotypical? I teach at a large state university and I can report these types are quite frequent today. If students were more reflective or wiser about this social scene they might not take so many years to realize that they don’t have to submit to it. Every generation has it, only the names change.

  85. @Douglas Duncan Thank you. It is odd that so many people took this to heart. i suspect they might be Karens :)

  86. Pure. Gold. And especially: "After college, I moved to Manhattan. After about a week of seeing lots of other women from around the world, particularly more women who were not white women, I realized that essentially all the women I had so carefully divided were almost identical."

  87. To summarize - the author says she has been surrounded by thousands of people ("Karens") that have been her "constant nemeses" for her "whole life." Yikes, that sounds like a horrible life. I hope the author manages to change her life situation.

  88. I got a few chuckles out of this. It was meant as comedy, right?

  89. A very funny column. Thanks!

  90. I'm so happy I didn't grow up in your headspace.... My genX experience certainly was nothing like the authors. Karen wasn't even a popular name, Jennifer was, but the Jennifer's weren't some sort of monolithic Jennifery monster and some of them were even my friends... but most of all I absolutely felt that I was allowed to not only be myself, but that is was absolutely fine that my chosen self that was not a member of any of the standard cliques. I have *never* in my life been desperate to be anyone's friend.... ew... just ew... to willingly become, even long to be, a sycophant is so contrary to my GenX experience, which taught me that you don't have to be mindlessly the same as everyone else and that being different isn't scary - it's to be embraced. My GenX experience taught me that I can avoid those people and all of their negativity thinly veiled as kindness and still be a happy, fulfilled and successful person that doesn't have to care about other people's opinions. My world was definitely Daria and not 90210....

  91. I'm an Xer who didn't grow up with any Karens, and don't know any now. Plenty of Jennifers, Jessicas, Emilys and Ericas, but no Karens. Its a bizarre "insult" to be sure.

  92. Sarah Miller: "I'm not a regular Karen, I'm a cool Karen." This is probably the most Karen-y sentiment possible. Congratulations.

  93. I'm in my late-ish 40's. I emailed this to my girlfriends to have them check my head...who were in agreement with me... I don't get this writing. Karen, Sarah, Emily, etc...I felt like using the names was trying too hard to make it a "thing." Adolescent girls can be clique-ish, moody, flaky, mean, and lovely all within the same few minutes of time, and if you're lucky, you'll survive and even make a few true friends along the way, regardless the names and regardless when you grew up. This is nothing new. It happened with me and it will happen with my own daughters, regardless the names.

  94. What a world Ms. Miller lives in! Did you find no women who lifted you up and made you feel empowered? I had many women as mentors and friends and now take comfort in my girlfriend posse - all of us Gen Xers and all of us cheering each other on whenever appropriate or necessary. I am sad for you Ms. Miller. So sad for you.

  95. A small sliver of us (Those who grew on “Heathers” and continue to embrace our cynical, snarky Gen X ways) will totally get this piece. Not just what she is saying but the way she is saying it. I read it three times. Pure genius. Thank you!

  96. @Steve @Steve I saw "Heathers" and completely got it. This, no.

  97. @Steve Interesting! If so, definitely written for that a small sliver.

  98. @Steve I agree. I thought it very funny. Do most people not understand snark?

  99. As a Gen-Xer and former junior-high outcast, I appreciate how this article both explains and derides the 'Karen' phenomenon. At the same time I'm disappointed that this generation seems to be playing right into the devious minds of the faceless trolls who make up hateful memes and hashtags. Why do we even have to be part of this? It's particularly disturbing that the feminine moniker 'Karen' seems to imply … what exactly? Seems to me to be a case of different generation, same misogyny. Also, let it be said that most Gen-X ladies I know don't 'call the manager,' as 'Karens' are said to do. They ARE the manager. Or the CEO.

  100. @Kelly most gen X ladies I know ask to speak to the manager, like a "karen", and most of the managers I know, and CEOs for that matter, are Alexandras.

  101. @Kelly It's sort of an internet phenomenon to give a name to a stereotype. Chad and Dylan are two of the more derogatory ones for Millenials. Its not a misogynist thing.

  102. Hi, my name is Karen and I am aged 57. I was first in grade school and second in high school because my parents never graduated and learning was important. My dad knew geography front and back. Encyclopedias, books and newspapers were always available. Yes, I memorized a lot. It got me onto the stage for the 4th grade holiday show. I made friends with the biology skeleton. I played sports at home with the neighbor boys. Football stats in college confused the jocks. I always let others answer first in school- do not call attention to yourself. I support anyone who believes they can do a better job at a task than I do. Help others. I did. I have. I do. Grade school, high school, paid my own way through college while helping a terminally ill dad at home. My younger siblings did not call me karen, they called me kare. Granted, guys, white guys in particular have had trouble with the independence - because attitude but that is their weakness, not mine. My folks named me Karen, maybe to give a 7.5 month, 3# baby strength. Defending myself nope, simply pointing out a flake in the theory. Me.

  103. @karen You aren't the only exception who blows this theory.

  104. @karen Then again, maybe you're not a Karen... (and I just heard about this, but I get what they're driving at. I think.)

  105. Over Thanksgiving my 2 daughters, ages 25 and 30, told me about the "boomer" comments and what they mean (we used up all the good American resources and left them with none). Sad when a generation blames the ones before and that's what this strange article tells me. Not deserving of paper and ink-that's right, I'm a boomer who prefers a newspaper.

  106. Perhaps I’m mistaken but I think most of the comments miss the author’s point: she is making fun of the idea of generalizing about a name and making fun of our tendency to be judgmental of others over trivial things. This whole generation carrots versus generation radishes thing is ridiculous and she’s pointing that out (perhaps too obliquely, judging from the comments that took her literally).

  107. @Calliope You’ve hit the nail on the head. I’m not sure how so many people are missing the point.

  108. @Calliope You don't engage in that kind of taxonomy for a joke. It was hard to follow, but clearly she believes in what she wrote.

  109. This was the most convoluted thing I have ever read. I still don't know what she was trying to say. Names come into fashion and fall out again. They are then associated with that generation. Big deal. This entire piece was time I will never get back.

  110. @Maureen What's bizarre to me is that the name Karen peaked in 1956. It's a name most associated with Baby Boomers.

  111. I am a Boomer. I do not understand a single word of this.

  112. My name is Karen and I'm in my mid-twenties. When I meet someone new, more often than not their response is, "Oh I have an aunt named Karen." I've always hated my name and now I hate it even more because so many people associate it with the Karen-from-accounting trope. And honestly, coming from a Karen (in name only I hope), the stereotype fits most.

  113. @Karen Don't hate your name. Recall: a rose by any other name is still a rose. Though I don't know you, you could be a lovely person if that is how you chose to conduct yourself. I sent it to my millennial age niece name Karen b/c it was a brilliantly crafted piece--certainly not to be cruel. As for everyone else, I'm a Gen X here to say you're lucky if you didn't understand the author's point. Not all the girls were supportive or kind. We introverts/sensitives often witnessed and sometimes were at the receiving end of the micro-aggressions by certain females so it was a tactical move to identify them early to avoid getting hurt. Specific names are incidental and geographically specific; don't let them trip you up.

  114. Hi Karen, don’t worry. I’m a Heather Gen Xer, and I found this article inscrutable. I like your name, too.

  115. Xer here. Appreciated one of us being game to take this stereotype out for a ride, drive this narrative to its meaningless end. Also interesting was the thin mask of a class war in this narrative. Those taking the biggest beating in that era were conspicuous by their absence. (That one-sentence glance in NYC was a teaser though) Not getting drawn into Generational battles, nope. Bigger things to fix. And if my Gen Z's need to add my behavior toward service employees to the list, I can handle that.

  116. Clever and refreshing essay.

  117. This whole idea of "Karens" being a thing is low-key cyberbullying based on nothing more than a name. Reading this article is a difficult slog--the writer seems to struggle to hold together her point. Maybe her time would be better spent trying to be a better Sarah, while I'm over here trying to be the best Karen I can be. I'm not sure stressing over which horrible, stereotyped categories women fall into is the best way to uplift our sisters and our selves. But I'm just a Karen, what do I know?

  118. I'm a GenXer and I've never heard the sort of disdain from Gen Z that Miller takes for granted. There was only one literal Karen in my privileged, white suburban class. If Miller had used the name "Heather" I might have agreed if solely for the landmark, eponymous film. But in reality, these Mean Girls are found in every generation and they are no more common in GenX than any other. Stop trying to make "Karen" happen.

  119. I’m a Heather Gen Xer and I don’t think that I was ever friends with a Karen. Although I understood the author’s intention to be funny, I found this article difficult to understand.

  120. Fantastic, Ms. Miller. Loved this piece; so many of these comments are killing me. (But it can be difficult to convince Scotts and Brendas when they may be missing the point.)

  121. This article is beneath the New York Times. Although I am a Karen, vintage 1951 so a boomer not a GenXer, I cannot take offense as this is probably the most inane piece I've read in a long time! Unfortunately there are these type of girls in every generation, names have very little to do with it. It is sad that the Author still feels pent up hostility and has not been able to let go of this, moving on to something more constructive!

  122. It’s called comedy, Karen.

  123. @Karen Barar Agreed

  124. @Karen Barar I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to read this as satire...

  125. "Sarahs are... also unbelievable jerks" -Karen

  126. Just me? I thought this was a riot.

  127. A wonderful essay; I shared it widely, which I never am moved to do. Love the comments, reinforcing the author's message, like a kind of ongoing performance.

  128. Being Jewish Gen X Karen, I feel so loved.

  129. As a Gen Xer - I accept my generation's cultural and statistical insignificance. And as any young person of any generation could tell the author if this vapid piece, attempting to relate to the young only makes you look older. We were blessed to have one foot in the analog wold and one in the digital world. We got the best of both. A small quiet decade where the biggest drama was Axl Rose and Kurt Kobain getting in a fight at the MTV music awards and it wasn't embarrassing to have an email address that ended with @aol. We actually talked to our friends and developed a lot of ways to get scratches out of compact discs, and our clothes were baggy and comfortable.

  130. Hilarious!

  131. Does the author realize that she is a "Karen" for her unkindness and lack of insight in using the name Karen in such a hurtful manner? Should I start using "Sarah" as a stand-in for a mean hypocrite?

  132. She was a Sarah, and Sarahs weren’t Karens but were mean because they wanted to be Emilys.

  133. @AJ This article is not amusing to me at all. We all grew up with mean girls, and every generation has it’s “Karens, ” or Jennifers or whatever. I remember being beaten up on the way home from school by a girl I didn’t know. The memory has never left me.

  134. @AJ but she admitted wanting to be an Emily, which is a Karen with curiosity. Doesn't everyone want to be the effortlessly cool kid?

  135. I know a person named Karen. She embodies everything that is Karen. Sorry for those named Karen but it could be worse. You join the ranks of chiseled-jaw Chads, floosey Stacys, devil-incarnate Jaxon etc...

  136. The "man' has us all calling each other names. OK, Donald.

  137. I think this was supposed to be a send-up of the Karen idea, but it was too boring to read so I am not sure.

  138. @whith I gave up after the third paragraph.

  139. great writing, hysterically funny, a flash of Salinger with female version 21st century Holden Caulfield irony. Please send more and maybe explain why you or anyone would live in Yuba City?

  140. @malabar You complemented her for her identity smear and then took a swipe at where she lives? FYI, Salinger, she ain't.

  141. Relax, people! Were you little girls in the 60's? The names may have been changed to protect the innocent (or not) but this piece sure hit a chord with me. I think Jane Austen would have enjoyed this article.

  142. The best. Loved it! Brought me back to 8th grade in 1981.

  143. This was great. Very relatable.

  144. Interesting...My mother would have been a Linda, and she would have been the one wanting to speak to the manager. I adopted the let me talk to the manager if it was an extreme situation. I am a generation X and saw many Karen's growing up.

  145. @Jennifer Just be grateful that gen z picked karen as the name for the meme because if they were really trying to peg the alpha girl gen x name jennifer would for sure be in the running...i say that aware that my own name also marks me as gen x.

  146. Great piece. Loved every line. This from a Boomer man who was perpetually late for class in high school because a Karen routinely made out at her locker, directly adjacent to his.

  147. Is the world really this simple?

  148. Karens are all those women who speed dial 9-1-1 whenever they cross paths with a black person walking, talking, or otherwise living. Nice piece.

  149. I lost the writer’s thread of a point as it wound through this mishmash of an essay. The only thing she managed to do was to be incredibly patronizing.

  150. holy cow this is brilliant

  151. I'm a Gen Xer and I thought this Karen piece was silly.

  152. As a GenX-er, I actually don't remember any Karens in my life. I don't think I was just lucky, I went to a 4000-person high school. I just really don't know from Karen. Who else has suffered from these Karens?

  153. As they used to say in the USSR: "Laugh. Is joke."

  154. I am not sure what I was suppose to get out of this story? Humor or fatigue. Childhood shouldn't be so hard when you have everything.

  155. I have a sister who's name is Karen, and she was mean growing up and she is still mean decades later. That's what I know about Karens.

  156. I don’t understand why I don’t understand this.

  157. Starting a story about how obnoxious Gen Xers are for being incredibly incredibly self-centered and having no self-awareness about how the world has changed and then writing 4,000 words in the New York Times about how much harder you had it growing up than Gen Z is peak ok, boomer.

  158. Confession: the Internet has ruined my attention span. These days I mostly just skim articles, think “meh” and move on to the next. Occasionally a topic will grab my interest and I’ll find myself fully immersed. But wow this was not one of those topics! I found this column to be shallow and mean-spirited. The author is 50 years old. She has had plenty of time to have therapy to resolve her adolescent and young adult trauma. This could have been hilarious. Instead it was just kind of sad (and yes, I did read the whole thing).

  159. I thought I was getting the gist of this essay with the Karens; I still had a grasp on it when the Lindas and the Jeans came in; but, the Sarahs and the Emilys threw me for a loop and by the time the Alexandras came I went bananas and was ready to be duct taped to the wall. Finally, I gave up and decided to read the comments to figure out what this piece was about.

  160. you forgot the Amys...? otherwise, brilliant!

  161. I think the movie Heathers did a better job than this essay of exposing the "Kareness" of life. But I'm a Boomer, just barely, so what do I know.

  162. This article is just ... weird. I have a dear friend named Karen. Nothing like the "Karens" in this piece. Sure we had cliques; there are cliques in high school now. That's nothing new and nothing unique to Gen X. It sounds like the author was emotionally hurt in her younger years, like many of us who didn't fit the mold of so-called "popular" kids. Unfortunately, that still happens every day in high school.

  163. Instead of calling them Karen, we called them Sarah. Please change this to Sarah because it is more appropriate.

  164. Every generation complains about the older generations. This is starting to be a distraction rather than a call to action. I am a X - I work for a non-profit, I run polling areas every election - I have voted in every election and I volunteer. My husband and I decided not to have kids in our late 20's because we both worked in non-profits and couldn't make the math work and there were environmental and social economic concerns that we couldn't work around. I don't fit an easy mold. Neither do OG's (depression area folks (how could you forget them?) - pre-boomers: most of my volunteers where I work), boomers, X'ers, Millennial and Z's - Life is hard - the powers that be are difficult and you are going to have to work for any change that you want to see. Period. Learn to focus on the change that you want to see - and take action. Vote, volunteer .. get into politics. The blame game gets you nowhere and pits you against each other - while the powers that be - laugh. Because you are busy fighting people instead of the systems and social structures that the "powers" have put in place to keep them powerful and you weak. #realtalk

  165. I must have read 2000 words of this before I realized I was totally wasting my time. Gross generalizations about groups of women, cutting but not funny in the least. First world problems, lady.

  166. > (Karens don’t care about injustice in any visceral way unless it’s about women in the workplace.) That or getting girls into STEM!

  167. While I sort-of understand the point of this article, I feel like a lot of commenters do not understand what exactly a "Karen" is - either because they are fortunate to not have met one (unlikely), or they are one- so I will add a brief explanation based on my own experience as a cusp millennial/Gen Z who has worked a number of service jobs. A Karen typically, though not always, has the haircut made famous by the SNL Baby Shower sketch - soft waterfall in the front, knives in the back. They frequently buy signs saying how much they love wine - wine all the time, morning evening and night, wine to replace feelings, etc. They ask to see the manager because they believe that will actually make a difference when they perceive something not going their way. They hate weed, and even though they did it back in college, they can't stand to think of any of their children even trying it. Or any of their presidents. But they don't care about them doing black face. They begin almost all the petty feuds with other PTA members and then complain about all the infighting later. Oh, and they are probably terribly, horribly bored. Most people my age cannot escape these women as we are probably born of them, or have friends who are born of them as well and so must interact with them, either at home or in our multiple jobs we have to survive.

  168. I’m a Gen X slacker, so I’m only now getting around to reading this essay. My reaction: reality bites.

  169. I'm a bit older than the author, as I was born in 1960 near the tail end of the Baby Boom. I grew up surrounded by many classmates named Debbie, Susan, Linda and Cindy. These days, I try to keep a sense of humor about the "Karen Memes" which were brought to my attention by my kids in their late teens. I wanted to like this piece, but I felt the only point that came across about the author is that she is a pretty insecure and bitter person.

  170. Hey folks, it's not literal. As a very non-blond, unsocialized kid growing up in surf-city southern CA this wry piece really hit the spot for me. Also it was very, very funny. Though we had Michelles instead. Thanks SM!!!

  171. This kind of article begs for another - say, living in nature, in a log cabin, for a year, and then coming back to the so-Karen life and weighing it all out.

  172. This is a peculiar article, celebrating the view of the world through the lens of traditional (white) caucasian first names. Is that really your memory of GenX? If anything, my GenX life can be better explained as the comparison of a Karen/Sarah/Wendy/John/Dave/Paul versus . I really think this "humorous" article is painfully ethnocentric, and frankly, unintentionally demeaning.

  173. Relate to most of it. Agree w/ Richard from Mass.

  174. Perhaps there should have been a disclaimer at the beginning, something to the effect that if you are unaware of meme culture, this essay will make zero sense.

  175. Aren't Karens just Heathers who got older?

  176. I found this piece really amusing. Maybe the other commenters were blessed to not know as many Karens. Gen Y has its Katies and Jessicas.

  177. Very funny but I do know some actual Karens who are more like Sarahs and vice versa. It may not have been as funny, but a descriptive term like “mean girls” might be less objectionable than “Karens”

  178. Wow sounds like this article went over a lot of commentators' heads. To those who took offense to this article, please try not to take everything so seriously, your inner Karen is showing. I thought this piece was humorous, insightful, and a fun read.

  179. Why Karen? I'm Gen X and Jennifer was the name that everyone seemed to have.

  180. Disclosure: I am from the tail end of Gen-X. "All non-Karens of all ages should be on the lookout for Karens — mocking you when you ask for a raise, cutting your best jokes, shaming you for losing your lanyard — and their assaults on our happiness, selfhood and freedom. Because I know that Karens are going to Karen. They are unstoppable." In junior high and high school, I was an outsider... goth girl, weirdo, scary girl, etc. Karen's, Emily's, and Sarah's would all avoid me because I looked like I was part of the Lost Boys crew. The rare instance that a Karen would dare speak out and attempt to deride me, they were met with sardonic verbal humiliation. Word traveled fast, and it was a lesson learned for all of them. So yes, they are stoppable and I refused to become a victim. I carved out my own path and went from "Goth to Boss." By the way, if you haven't seen IT Crowd, please Google it! I almost kind of feel sorry for the author. She appears that she has lived her life thus far not knowing how to deal with predatory behavior, and constantly getting caught in the undertow of some sort of drama. But maybe that's the thrill of it for her so she has something to talk and write about?

  181. Are all of the Karens, Lindas, Jeans, etc. white? As a reader, did you imagine the characters to be European American girls/women when you read this piece?

  182. I don't get it. I mean, I was there, in the 80's, but....what?

  183. What comes across, most disappointingly, is the animosity women have towards each other

  184. As a real Karen I was appalled and dismayed when I read this. In my long life, I've dealt with racism, sexism and ageism. And now nameism?!? So according to the author because my parents named me Karen I am either overbearing or boring. Sarah Miller, do you even know any real Karens? The 3 in my life, other than myself, are kind, generous, good natured and caring-- among other attributes. Enough already.

  185. @Karen Here, here. I'm ostensibly a Gen-Xer, and growing up in the Caribbean, two of my best friends were Karens: Karen C and Karen D. This trend I get when my tweens goof about it, but to somehow extrapolate it to the real? Nah.

  186. As a Gen-X Jennifer (is there any other kind?), I’m here to reassure you that no one takes actual names to be indicative of the traits ascribed to us ... or Heathers ... or Jasons. Relax; enjoy finding yourself a member of a popular-name club; in short, try not to be such a Karen ;)

  187. Another Gen Xer who knew few Karens. I, did, however, know LOTS of Jennifers. In fact, I'm one of them. You could walk through any mall in America in the late 1970s or early 1980s, say "Hey, Jennifer" loudly and at least a dozen girls would have stopped, thinking you were calling them. Karen, not so much.

  188. For me, the payoff of this piece was near the end: "After college, I moved to Manhattan. After about a week of seeing lots of other women from around the world, particularly more women who were not white women, I realized that essentially all the women I had so carefully divided were almost identical." My takeaway was that even among our peers we can still find ways to divide and agitate (i.e., "we have met the enemy and [s]he is us."). But when true differences confront us, small differences become just that--small.

  189. My adolescence, narrated. Impressively sustained!

  190. I was bullied and ostracized throughout school, for various reasons - one being an undiagnosed neurological issue, which led to behavior problems. The most popular names from my childhood and adolescence were Kim and Vicki. Growing up, I wish I knew how the Kimberlys and Victorias all managed to get along with one another and just about everyone else. Emilys seemed nice as well. Can't say much about those named Sarahs. Maybe because they were the ones always saying the mean things about me? Yours always, Karen

  191. As a fellow Gen-Xer, I suffered torment at the hands of pre-teen 'Karens', I still have residual anxiety just thinking about them. I loved this piece and found it exceptionally funny and well-written.