Karen and the Deep State

At my friend’s suggestion, I downloaded Scrivener for a free 3 month trial, and that’s what I’ve been typing out my blogs on.  I just think it’s interesting that when I started this 3 month trial, there was no hint of pandemic that I was aware of.  Things were business as usual in the US, emphasis on “business”, and now here I am googling contact tracing.  It’s nice living in the most technologically advanced nation in the world, until they decide to go full surveillance mode on our asses.  I kind of expected this, because I was raised by conspiracy theorists, but there’s a certain complacence built in to long term expectancy.  I mean, we all expect to die, long term, but it’s still a shock when it comes up on the calendar.  

Anyway, I’m sure some people think contact tracing is this totally benign way to use our daily personal tech in the “front line” against this, or the next, pandemic. I mean, what could go wrong when multi-hundred-billion dollar corporate monopoly megaliths gather all our data and sell it to the government? That’s totally legit, right? In my mind, it’s obviously a means by which illegal search, seizure, and arrest of anyone, anywhere, for anything, can be leveraged. It’s just not a good idea to take away our liberties, not for any reason. They were really hard won, in the first place and they’re really hard to get back, once they’ve been compromised.

A lot of people are saying, “oh look — it’s the first time white males have had their personal liberties impacted, look at them freaking out. Where were they when we/all/whoever were having our liberties impacted”. I think three things about this: first, it’s true; second, since it is true, shouldn’t everyone be worried when the white males start losing their liberties, just in a practical sense?; and third — how long should the white males wait before protesting their impacted liberties, in that case? I think everyone everywhere should react to negatively impacted liberties immediately if not before, whether or not they stood by and watched other people’s liberties get impacted. I mean, standing by and watching other people get punished is literally what grade school was all about, as far as I could tell. Come on.

My best friend made a good point last night — we all accept the statistical inevitability of many, many “unnecessary” deaths every year on our roadways, simply by having the speed limits set at 75. If we set the limits at 35 (which is the states’ call but feds will withhold funding above a certain range, as Montanans discovered), literally tens of thousands of people could be saved. But a higher speed limit is a risk we all accept, in favor of enhanced liberty and productivity. In this scenario, let’s say the residents of New York and New Jersey simply cannot function at a higher speed limit, then they should lower theirs, but as a nation we’re too big to treat everyone and everything like it’s New York City.

My friend is a Stanford PhD in ethics who’s feeling increasingly skeptical of the turn things are taking, from both an ethics and constitutional law standpoint, but he believes (hopes) that it’s all at least occurring in the category of paternal and poorly rendered policy decisions.  He thinks I’m being silly, mostly, in that I worry the whole pandemic was leveraged exactly as planned in order to justify a stepped-up surveillance mechanism, and he thinks I’m silly in concerns about a Deep State.  But whether the Deep State is a thing or not, Edward Snowden did put his entire life on the line to protest the fact that the CIA lied to congress about the extent of its surveillance of US and world citizens, so whether you call it “Deep State” or just “out of control CIA plus whatever other entities”, it kinda doesn’t matter when things trend in that direction.  I think there is a Deep State of sorts, but whether it’s a cause or an effect, I don’t know.  

It all makes me feel glum — my free 3 month Scrivener trial hasn’t even expired yet and here I am wondering how to go cash only and turn off location services on my phone.

I’ve made it a point to focus this blog on other things, just for the sake of creating that space for myself, and that’s largely what I’ll continue to do.  I’m reorganizing my life, though.  I had settled down a bit, when I met my partner Nick, because I wanted to erect a life that mostly occurred in one location, and play house, and meet his sensibilities at least halfway.  He hasn’t wanted to be gallivanting around, living in a van or a truck, taking life as it comes, and that’s been okay because I’m just about the most domestic, homebody-gypsy type you’ve ever seen.  I don’t want to not be home; I just want my concept of home to be a lot more mobile and free wheeling than most people’s.  

Nick’s sensibilities don’t come from traditional rigidity per se — he spent so many years being a junkie that he’s felt he owes it to himself and his family, in some sense, to emerge as a straight arrow and pillar of the community, in recovery.  I’ve never been a pillar of any community, and if I ever realized I was, I’m sure I’d abdicate immediately.  I wouldn’t mind dating a pillar of community, and back when I started my free Scrivener trial, all that seemed more likely.  I was working at a community college, he had started a business, we were actually breaking up and going our separate ways due to irreconcilable differences.  

Which is weird because he feels like the essence of “home” to me — I never want to not be leashed up with this guy, wherever we go and whatever happens.  Even my closest friends and family feel virtually foreign in comparison to the steady, heady resonance I feel with him.  But ironically, and on the other hand, he feels foreign to me as well, in that I constantly sense my own differences from him, when I’m with him, and they matter to me more than my differences from other people.  I scrutinize myself more deeply, and I flounder in entire conceptions of self where I’m otherwise graceful.  He looks like JFK Jr., if JFK Jr. had decided to get jacked at the gym, by the way, and was probably a foot shorter.

Anyway, since everything everywhere collapsed, and I’m this weird gypsy person who happens to have lots of gypsy work connections — and I’m using the term “gypsy” here figuratively; I did work for some literal gypsies, eight years ago on an asphalt paving crew, and that’s a whole different deal — he’s seeing things my way, more and more.  It’s funny, really — I developed a post-apocalyptic work lifestyle so far in advance of the apocalypse that I was virtually unintelligible by most metrics.  My sensibilities have always been that my body is a temple, my mind is a work in progress, and culturally sanctioned normalcy is the worst tragedy that could befall me, and it hasn’t befallen me yet.  

Which — oh god — reminds me of this whole Karen phenomenon.  The Karen memes, the Karen hairstyle, Karen demanding she talk to the manager, all that.  Nick and I were examining this yesterday — how interesting that the jargon of racism has typically relied upon ugly, dismissive, but encompassing terms like “nigger” or “spic”, etc.  Racism against white people (is there a more graceful way to say that?) seems to be resolving now into these actual first names — Karen, Kyle, Chad.  And it’s devastating!  It’s almost worse — which is exactly what a white person would say lollll — but finally, finally a dominant ideology, necessarily without characteristic (because dominant ideologies are exempt and immune from having perceivable characteristics; those are the burden of its surrounding isms) has been given characteristics!  Against all odds, whiteness is now resolving into laughable, even objectionable tropes like Kyle, Chad, and yes — Karen.  

Like all racially charged terms, it’s problematically accessible — it’s tough not to call a spade a spade, and it’s tough not to call a Karen a Karen, now that the essence of Karenism has coagulated in the cultural consciousness.  

I just wanted to go ahead and, as a reasonably privileged white woman in my 40’s, give everyone my personal blessing to use that term when applicable, in case it matters.  I am not endorsing racism, but I am endorsing the brave critique of dominant ideologies as delineated by their surrounding isms.  

And regardless of what I am or am not endorsing, there’s just something so right about calling this particular spade the spade it is.  Maybe it is racist and maybe it is sexist and maybe it is a new iteration of bigotry, but you can sort of arrange demographics, within a society, in order of most-sheltered to least-sheltered.  You can do that anywhere.  And you can count on those most-sheltered demographics to be less self-conscious, as in less conscious of self, generally speaking, because they haven’t had to be.  

Karen is our culture’s version of the most sheltered possible demographic — she’s gotten just enough of a whiff of feminism to cultivate a sense of disgruntled personal disenfranchisement while being, otherwise, just enfranchised enough to have remained disconnected from the things the feminists are actually talking about.  She is certain everyone is out to get her, and would be frankly offended to learn otherwise.  She’s just racially privileged enough, and just gender-oppressed enough, demographically, to aggress others with total immunity, practically speaking.  

It’s fascinating, just fascinating.  

My dog Buffy is kind of a Karen at the dog park, honestly — she finds a lawn chair or bench to hide under, and then when any dogs have any fun in the park, she runs out and barks at them, and then when they try to deal with her she runs back under her chair.  

Anyway, this blog has been a ramble of ideas, which I enjoyed very much, and I think I’ll get the rest of the day started.  Peace, love, and geo-spatial anonymity to you all.                         

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