A “dabloon revolution” is taking over TikTok, but what is it and how did we get here?
What is the Dabloon Economy?
The dabloon economy is the latest craze sweeping TikTok. It’s a loosely structured, collaborative RPG in which users collect fictional currency “dabloons” – based on the 16th-century Spanish coin known as the “doubloon” – and exchange them for imaginary items, such as soup, weapons, or a giant shark with a horse’s head.
You earn dabloons just by coming across a video that gives you some. Eventually you’ll come across more videos, most featuring an image of a cat that will greet you with the phrase “hello traveler” who will then proceed to show you their inventory of items that you can purchase for a set number of dabloons.
Anyone can make a dabloon gift or sales video, there is no database that keeps track of how many you have or what you buy, and there is no external website that creates or regulates them. In fact, there’s really nothing stopping you from simply saying you have ten billion doubloons in your fake bank account, but with no tangible benefits other than whim, if you choose to cheat, then you’re really just cheating yourself.
“I think the reason we all love this is that we secretly miss being 5 and playing with our friends,” says avid UK dabloon collector Beth Woodward.
“I miss being a kidnapped princess or a potion-making witch. Being part of this trend means I can do it again. I can be a silly kitty who buys silly little items and enjoys it.
How did it start?
According to the “Know Your Meme” website, the origins of the dabloon trend can be traced to two images, shared by the catz.jpeg Instagram account, of cat paws, with the simple caption “four dabloons” underneath.
This brand of nonsensical humor seemed to strike a chord with the account’s one hundred thousand followers and was shared consistently over the next several months.
In October 2022 the phrase “But it will cost you 4 dabloons” became a popular punchline on TikTok and by the end of November this had become a real craze, with thousands of accounts posting dabloon content and videos using the hashtag “ #dabloons”. collectively gaining nearly 500 million views, as of Nov. 25.
And so the dabloon economy began.
How has it evolved?
Suddenly there were dabloon thieves who drained people’s accounts or sent them into a spiral of dabloon debt. Obviously, the dabloon kangaroo had to be invented to repel thieves. Later, the leagues of mafia and pirates were formed, so naturally, fighter planes and dragons were added to the economy to boost player defenses and ward off rival factions.
Most tracked dabloon counts in their phone notes app, but within a day or two, the economy became so complex that collectors like 21-year-old Allexis Dorsey needed a spreadsheet to record her income.
“It ended up with me and my roommate sitting there for about four hours… playing with our spreadsheets,” he said.
A TikTok her roommate posted on Dorsey explaining that her in-depth accounting system went viral, and the trend soon caught on — some users even attempting to code their own dabloon tracking apps from scratch.
What is the problem with inflation?
But very quickly people started to notice a problem with this imaginary economy where anyone has the power to mint their own coins.
“It started out as a fun little way to get soup, cake and maybe a blanket. It quickly turned into a spiral of massive inflation,” Woodard laments.
“People were giving out endless dabloons and such… I saw someone selling a bowl of soup for 10 dabloons! What happened to 4?”
So, in an effort to restore order, users started developing rules, such as limiting the maximum number of dabloon bequests to 100 per video. And soon the FBI and IRS dabloons were created.
“This is a very cruel lesson that we are all learning about the economic state of our nation,” says Dorsey, speaking from home in the United States.
“I mean, we see some of the same problems that we’re literally facing right now in our current economic climate.”
But some, like Woodard, are horrified by the ever-growing grip of the (imaginary) dabloon government.
“I hate that people have introduced late stage capitalism to this beautiful world,” they say. “To be honest, that’s why I joined the revolution.”
Yes, just a week after its conception and dabloon economics is already condensing with a full-blown anti-capitalist revolt.
“We have a secret base where revolutionaries gather and we have gathered resources and weapons to prepare for it. Some have donated their fighter planes, guard dogs, armor and recently some dragons.
But ideology and factional rivalry aside, it’s clear that what unites the participants in Dabloon’s economy is the sheer joy of collectively creating this gigantic imaginary world.
“It’s very extravagant,” said Louis Massey, a London teacher, who is already jotting down the updates he needs to make to his class’s dabloon board in the morning.
“It was just a lot of fun.”