The “Psst! Hey Kid!” Meme on Twitter Has a Surprisingly Socialist Origin
Can you say "Marx's Meme Manifesto" three times fast?
There’s a good chance a little guy peeking out from behind a brick wall built from Japanese keyboard characters has graced your Twitter feed this week. The “Psst! Hey Kid!” tweet format gained traction as one of August’s first major memes, meaning hundreds of accounts have utilized the shy kaomoji to deliver a diverse set of public service announcements with a sarcastic twist. But the first viral tweet featuring the lil’ dude had a distinct political angle — and so do many of its successors.
The format itself is a copy and paste-able series of katakana, or Japanese, alphabet strokes that display a brick wall and a marshmallow-shaped figure jutting out from it. The first notable tweet featuring the format came from Ed Burmila, whose bio indicates he’s a political science professor and writer for publications like The Nation and Deadspin. Burmila didn’t even bother with the “Psst! Hey kid!” line the first time around. He just went right ahead with some liberal agribusiness discourse.
That tweet got a sizeable number of likes, retweets, and responses, but Burmila’s next attempt really racked up the impressions. This time, the professor went for a more direct anti-capitalist message. It’s the most-liked “Psst! Hey Kid!” tweet so far. Marx would likely be proud, if he had any conception of what the stock market was.
After Burmila’s second attempt on August 1 incorporated the “Psst! Hey kid!” meme, a literal hammer and sickle iteration saw its fair share of social media clout. Fiscal conservatives are shaking!
The next imitator didn’t mince words when calling for the proletariat to rise up against the bourgeoisie.
And then Hadiya Afzal — the 18-year-old Muslim, Democratic candidate for DuPage’s District 4 County Board in Illinois who was recently profiled by Teen Vogue — seized upon the format to issue a comeback to her detractors.
Trendy Japanese kaomoji have been a meme mainstay since the shruggie first hit the scene. But these more elaborate keystroke drawings, like animals, full-fledged figures, and brick wall filigree, have been “in” as of late. Burmila’s likes and retweets indicate his inspiration may have root in the “bunny holding up a poster” meme.
Of course, the “Psst! Hey kid!” memes don’t all echo The Communist Manifesto. There are, of course, stan accounts who have utilized the format.
From there, the copycat memes range from social justice issuances:
Twitter personalities who fit the format into their schtick from Seinfeld to Drunk Jane Austen to song lyrics:
And even veganism and vaccine PSAs:
If you have a message for the youth or just Twitter at large, why not employ a “Psst! Hey Kid!” meme?