A viral TikTok shows a sweaty “Karen” horrifically misusing her face mask in an airport, cementing everyone’s fears about traveling for the holidays.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and despite warnings from experts, many people are still planning trips to see friends and family. For some, the risk of travel is entirely worth it for the chance to see their loved ones. Unfortunately, no matter how safe you are as an individual, air travel robs you of the choice to avoid others. If your fellow passengers aren't being safe, your careful handwashing, social distancing, and mask-wearing can only do so much good.
The viral TikTok uploaded by Chris Britt (@chrisbritt46) makes this abundantly clear. In less than a day, the clip has earned more than 1.2 million views and 56,000 likes. The brief but horrifying video shows Karen sitting in an airport, using her face mask to wipe sweat from her brow. She comes close to pulling a Rudy Giuliani and blowing her nose with the mask as well, but she thankfully stops short of that.
The brief clip is fittingly soundtracked by a remix of Cardi B ranting about the dangers of coronavirus. As Karen dabs sweat from her brow and cheeks, the boisterous rapper howls the anti-anti-masker anthem: "Coronavirus! Shit is real! Shit is getting real!"
In the comment section, people blasted the woman for putting her fellow travelers at risk. Many agreed that she met the criteria for a Karen, especially after Britt noted that she was later removed from the plane.
The TikTok is short but frightening, and the comments reflected a collective anxiety toward the high-risk holidays. The coronavirus pandemic is still very much happening, but many people would prefer to pretend it is over. This attitude, unfortunately, is part of the reason the U.S. has reported a staggering 12.5 million COVID-19 cases and 258,000 deaths so far.
As the holiday season gets into full swing, more instances like this sweaty airport Karen are bound to occur. Even as experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci advise Americans against taking trips of any length for the holidays, people will continue flocking to airports, gas stations, and bus stops to keep their holiday plans intact. Karens will come out in droves, potentially putting the lives of their fellow travelers at risk.
If you absolutely must travel, take a hint from Britt's viral TikTok—and its hundreds of commenters—and don't be like Karen. Wear your mask properly for the duration of your trip—and please, please bring a separate handkerchief to wipe your face.