What's An Orphan-Crushing Machine? Viral Metaphor For Capitalism Explained
In 2020, a Twitter user described an orphan-crushing machine as a metaphor for "heartwarming" news headlines that become horrifying on closer inspection. But what is the metaphor about, and how did it get popular? Learn all you need in our brief explainer.
What Is the 'Orphan-Crushing Machine?'
The orphan-crushing machine is luckily just a metaphor for the way media tends present the stories in which a person remedies the effects of sociopolitical injustice as "heartwarming" without questioning why said injustice exists in the first place. The metaphor satirizes these stories by comparing them to a person raising money to keep 200 orphans from getting crushed while nobody questions why an orphan-crushing machine exists and runs in the first place.
The orphan-crushing machine can also be interpreted as a metaphor for late-stage capitalism, where useless products and infrastructure can be produced with the single purpose of further inflating business numbers and creating jobs.
Who Coined the Term 'Orphan-Crushing Machine?'
The metaphor was coined by Twitter user @pookleblinky, who on September 24th, 2020, posted the original tweet and several more in which they continued to build upon the joke.
Screenshots of the original tweet were then reposted far and wide, often appearing as a reply to news headlines that seemed to fit the metaphor.
How Is The 'Orphan-Crushing Machine' Used in Memes?
By 2023, the humorous metaphor became so popular that memes referencing it started to appear, while users on Twitter continued to develop the joke further. The best way to use this joke is simply mentioning it when a similarly ridiculous news headline deserves to be called out.
What Other Metaphors From Twitter Became Commonplace?
In 2021, Twitter user @AlexBlechman coined the term "torment nexus," a metaphor for creating a product that was originally described in fiction as something that for the benefit of humanity should never be created. The metaphor quickly got adopted by Twitter users to ridicule tone-deaf actions of corporations.
For the full history of the Orphan-Crushing Machine be sure to check out our entry for more information.
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