Meme: Old Economy Steven

May 28th, 2013

Memes are funny things. Post a yearbook photo from the 1970s on reddit, add the caption “Fails out of high school / Gets job, buys house, retires happy,” and a phenomenon is born. The original Reddit post was titled, ““and it’s now become an outlet for the frustrations of young people with the current economic climate, including dealing with student loans, unemployment, rising housing costs and other issues. Prior to being archived, the post received over 10,600 up votes and 950 comments.

In the meme world Old Economy Steven is what they call an advice animal, sometimes referred to as an “Advice Dog spin-off.” Advice animals feature animals or people accompanied by captions that explore the archetype of the character. Given the snarkiness of the content, I wonder if Old Economy Steve isn’t intended as a spin off of Scumbag Steve.

Old Economy Steve was featured on the Internet news blog The Daily Dot, and last week the blog published a compilation of the meme which gained more than 5,300 notes in the next 24 hours.

When you see the rapid spread of a new meme you know the character has tapped into something universal and yet unexpressed (or at least under expressed) in culture. It’s no coincidence that it landed on a Ron Paul blog. Ron Paul’s meteoric rise to prominence is essentially an expression of the same shared emotions or anxieties as that launched Old Economy Steve. But where Ron Paul told a young generation exactly why they so economically screwed, Old Economy Steve lets the young generation tell the old generation how out of touch their advice sounds in the current climate.

The trouble is the meme is more a commentary on the current mood, not necessarily an accurate portrayal of history or expression of sound economics. Many of the captions are incredibly misguided in fact, which is why I think it’s important to come up with some good captions of our own. Post your caption ideas in the comments, and I’ll make up the image.

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About the Author: Davi Barker

In grade school Davi refused to recite the pledge of allegiance because he didn't understand what it meant. He was ordered to do as he was told. In college he spent hours scouring through the congressional record trying to understand this strange machine. That's where he discovered Dr. Ron Paul. In 2007 he joined the End The Fed movement and found a political home with the libertarians. The Declaration of Independence claims that the government derives its power “from the consent of the governed." He does not consent.