What are dabloons?: Tiktok’s new imaginary economy explained | TikTok

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 fad to sweep over TikTok. It is a collaborative, loosely structured role-playing game in which users collect the fictional currency “dabloons” – based on the 16th-century Spanish coin known as a “doubloon” – and exchange it for imaginary items, such as soup, weapons, or a giant shark with a horse’s head.

You earn dabloons simply by coming across a video that gives you some. You’ll then eventually come across other videos – most of them featuring a picture of a cat that will greet you with the phrase “hello traveller” who then show you their inventory of items you can buy for a certain number of dabloons.

Anyone can create a dabloon gift or sale video, there’s no database to track how much you have or what you buy, and there’s no outside website to create or regulate them. In fact, nothing stops you from simply saying that you have ten billion doubloons in your so-called bank account, but with no tangible benefits other than whimsy, if you choose to cheat then you are only really cheating yourself.

“I think the reason we all love this is that we all secretly miss being 5 and playing with our friends,” says avid British dabloon collector Beth Woodward.

“I miss being a kidnapped princess or a potion-making witch. Being a part of this trend means I can do that again. I can be a silly little cat who buys silly little things and just has a great time.”

How did this start?

According to the website “Know Your Meme,” the origins of the dabloon trend can be traced back to two images, shared by the Instagram account catz.jpeg, of cat paws, with the simple caption “four dabloons” underneath.

This brand of nonsensical humor seemed to strike a chord with the account’s 100,000 followers and was shared consistently over the following 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, it had become all the rage, with thousands of accounts posting dabloon content and videos using the hashtag “#dabloons” together reaching nearly 500 million viewed on November 25.

And so began the dabloon economy.

How has it evolved?

Suddenly there were dabloon thieves draining people’s accounts or sending them into dabloon debt. Obviously the dabloon kangaroo had to be invented back then to fend off the robbers. Then the mafia and pirate leagues were formed, so of course fighter jets and dragons were added to the economy to bolster player defenses and fend off rival factions.

Most kept their dabloon count in their phone’s 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 track her income.

“It ended with me and my roommate sitting there for about four hours…playing with our spreadsheets,” she said.

A TikTok her roommate posted about Dorsey explaining her elaborate accounting system went viral and the trend soon caught on — some users even tried coding their own dabloon tracking apps from scratch.

What is the inflation problem?

But soon people started noticing a problem with this imaginary economy where anyone and everyone has the power to mint their own coins.

“It started as a nice little way to get soup, cake and maybe a blanket. It quickly led to massive inflation,” Woodard complains.

“People handed out endless dabloons and stuff… I saw someone selling a bowl of soup for 10 dabloons! What happened to 4?”

So in an effort to restore order, users began developing rules such as limiting the maximum dabloons legacies to 100 per video. And soon the dabloon FBI and IRS were established.

“This is a very cruel lesson that we are all learning about the economic state of our country,” Dorsey says from home in the United States.

“I mean, we’re seeing some of the same issues that we’re literally facing right now in our current economic climate.”

But some, like Woodard, are shocked by the ever-widening grip of the (imaginary) dabloon government.

“I hate that people introduced late capitalism to this beautiful world,” they say. “To be honest, that’s why I joined the revolution.”

Yes, barely a week after conception and the dabloon economy is already condensing with a full-blown anti-capitalist uprising.

“We have a secret base where the revolutionaries gather and we have gathered resources and weapons to prepare. Some have donated their fighter jets, guard dogs, armor and most recently some dragons.”

But ideology and factional rivalry aside, it’s clear that what unites the participants of the dabloon economy is the sheer joy of collectively creating this giant imaginary world.

“It’s very whimsical,” said Louis Massey, a London-based teacher, jotting down all the updates he has to jot down on his whiteboard in the classroom in the morning.

“It’s just been really fun.”

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