Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/21/2020
Primary Language: English
Interviewer: What does “Karen” mean?
Informant: Karen is an internet slang word to describe a very entitled, middle-class white woman. Or a boomer white woman. They are often blonde and they often have very short haircuts. They usually like to speak and the managers, and then proceed to yell at the entry-level employees who have no control over the matters.
Interviewer:Where did you pick it up?
Informant: Maybe a year ago, scrolling through Twitter.
Interviewer: do you use it frequently?
Informant: Yeah, especially when making jokes with friends or memes on the internet, haha.
The informant is a good friend and housemate of mine, and is a junior at USC studying Computer Science and Computer Engineering. He is originally from Manhattan Beach, CA and has been coding ever since highschool. He has had several internships with different computer science companies such as Microsoft and is very involved with different coding clubs on campus.
The group of individuals at my house tend to send each other a lot of memes and use internet lingo throughout the house as different jokes. “Karen” is one that this informant uses very frequently, so during our interview I asked him to describe it in his own terms.
This term of folk speech is a perfect example of how internet lingo and culture has permeated into everyday verbal communication. Many of these terms are associated with humor and generational differences, as seen with this one which is intended to poke fun at individuals from an older population. This shows the rift in values and morals between generations, and displays how everyday names can be transformed to carry much more weight and meaning.