Reading Response 2 / Amanda Denhart

Metahaven’s Can Jokes Bring Down Governments presents not-so-surprising outlook on the power of a joke. Simply put, a child learns early on that jokes are but thoughtfully crafted words, which create a point—be it positive or negative. Some of the earliest personal struggles we go through as humans, are due to the repercussions of a ‘joke’. Therefore when the question is posed: Can jokes bring down governments? The answer is, without question, yes. Frequently, it is in the absence of respect, that jokes, memes, and satire lie.

According to Metahaven, “Jokes, in the past, were considered for what they really are: incredibly dangerous political weapons.” Historically, the political joke originated from the court’s jester, who was employed by the king to say whatever he wanted. As time passes, the formal “jester” has transformed to and everyday “Jokester” which gives each person the power to make an impact using words. This transition has only been amplified by the increases in technology and the transformation of traditional design. There has been a dramatic decline in the emphasis on political cartoons and more emphasis on viral “memes” and trending tweets. Memes have always been in existence but the “Specific media pathways these memes must travel and the culture with which they must connect” (Boyd) changes over time, according to Andrew Boyd, twenty-five-year veteran of creative campaigns for social change. He continues: “A vital movement requires a hot and happening meme.” Boyd goes on to compare the Declaration of Independence and Internet Memes as similar ways to influence government and social change. Read more about his analysis click here.

In parallel, Metahaven states that a meme serves as a “‘cultural gene’ … Memes are units of culture and behaviour, which survive and spread via imitation and adaptation” (Metahaven). By definition, a meme sounds eerily similar to a rumor—which draws an unsurprising connection between a joke’s ability to bring down an individual person and a joke’s ability to evoke a change in a government. Commentary and opinions spread quickly be it positive or negative, when there are many “jokesters” and no true “jesters”.

Reading Response 1 / Amanda Denhart

The United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, backed by the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs issued a staff report: Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse. This report explores the preventable in’s and out’s leading to the 2008 financial crisis that disrupted the American Economy. This report exemplifies, through the use of case studies, four sectors to blame: 1) Lenders for introducing high levels of risk into the economy, 2) credit rating agencies for labeling the resulting securities as safe, 3) federal banking regulators for failing to ensure safe lending practices and 4) investment banks for enabling investors to bet on the failure rather than the success of the US financial instruments (Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, 12).

The 2008 Housing Crisis Don’t Blame Federal Housing Programs for Wall Street’s Recklessness, a later publication by the Center for American Progress, explores the inability of government funded housing programs to be at fault for the 2008 crisis. This article lays defensive grounds for maintaining all government-funded housing programs in tact, as opposed to the desires of the Community Reinvestment Act and the Federal Housing Agency. The article seeks to outline that a restriction or disintegration of housing programs would set back the work that has been done to expand the housing market and allow more equal housing through social classes.

The commonality between the two articles lies in their blame on private financial institutions in the race for high yielding, risky lending, and to organizations. One such organization is the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) for their lack of regulation and appropriate action to prevent financial institutions from engaging in such high-risk activities. The 2008 Housing Crisis report is a persuasive attempt to displace blame away from the government housing programs; Anatomy of a Financial Collapse fails to take a stance on such programs, therefore raising higher concern of other major areas, mostly actions on Wall Street, through the use of unbiased case studies and factual reporting.

When in search for a third source of information, I searched for a summary analysis of the economic reactions to the 2008 crisis. My searching led me to information on the 2011 Occupy Wall Street Movement, which opened my eyes to all of the various historical events across the globe that followed the 2008 crisis. It reminded me that though the economy is ever changing and gaining as we move further from the events of 2008, that there are still ripples in economies, lives, and investments across the globe. See the links below to learn more about the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, and across the globe and their effects remaining in today’s world.

Secondary Research/Alisha Lee

Thesis: Since millennials came of age at the start of recession, they don’t spend as freely as earlier generations, seeing how their parents struggled. In addition, they often don’t have as much money to begin with, since they have large amounts of student debt and incomes haven’t increased.
  • 7 out of 10 students graduate with student loan debt.
  • The average amount of debt that students graduate with is $30,000, which does not include those who take out loans and don’t graduate.
  • Around 1/3 of millennials don’t have money in their savings accounts
Thesis: The Millennial generation is more likely to spend their (limited) funds on experiences, which means that traditional higher-priced physical markets are struggling.
  • 75% of millennials feel the political and economic state of the world impacted them heavily
  • 71% of millennials cite that experiences are the most important thing in their lives
  • Vacations – 43% of millennials are ‘work martyrs’ where they feel guilty for taking time off, also don’t have funds to go on vacation
  • marriage- millennials marry less and later-more debt, living with parents or roommates longer, pushing marriage until financial stability
  • homeownership-can’t afford down payments, stagnant wages and rising home prices
  • diamonds-companies cutting prices, millennials prefer experiences rather than expensive, exploitive goods
Thesis: Millennials and their high student debt are affecting society due to its far-reaching consequences.
  • Americans owe more than a trillion dollars in student loans, millennials carry most of it
  • 41% of millennials are putting off buying a house
  • 31% are putting off buying a car
  • 17% are putting off marriage
  • 31% putting off having kids
  • Average bachelors degree holder takes 21 years to pay off student debt

Secondary Research / Amanda Denhart

Article #1: I Changed Careers Repeatedly In My 20s-Here’s What It Taught Me.

O’Dell, Arianna. “I Changed Careers Repeatedly In My 20s-Here’s What It Taught Me.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 22 Aug. 2017.

Arianna O’Dell is the founder of Airlink Marketing, a digital agency that helps hotels, restaurants, and travel destinations attract and retain clientele.

Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, leadership, and design.

Data: n/a

Themes: Don’t put off until tomorrow, others have done it and been successful, there’s no time to waste, life isn’t about $$ but about gaining money through following passions.

Thesis: The millennial job attitude is one of the DIY-er. There is a general understanding among the generation that we must work hard and remain dedicated to pave our path that will lead to happiness and fulfillment throughout our lives.


Article #2: Why Gen-Xers And Baby Boomers Are Beating Millennials At Freelancing

Bellis, Rich. “Why Gen-Xers And Baby Boomers Are Beating Millennials At Freelancing.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 2 Aug. 2017,

Sources in article:

 Thogori Karago and Yu Liu are Sr. Product Managers at linkedin, leading a team that builds products that directly connect our members with opportunities on a daily basis around the world.

Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, leadership, and design.


  • 55mil people free-lanced in 2016, (35% of the US workforce)
  • Additional 2 million people than in 2014
  • Freelancers contribute est. $1T in freelance earnings to our economy
  • 63% state that they start freelancing by choice/necessity (up 10% from 50% in 2014)
  • Reasons why: Flexibility, Freedom (full-time) Earning additional income (part-time)
  • 79% say that freelancing is better than working traditional job
  • Feel respected, engaged, empowered and excited
  • Work avg 36 hours/week
  • 70% of freelancers said we need more open discussion of how to empower independent workforce (up 7% from 63% since 2015)
  • 63% of freelancers said perceptions of career are becoming more positive
  • 73% say technology has made it easier to find freelance work
  • 66% say amount of work has increased in the past year
  • 46% (Full time) raised their rates in the past year
  • 54% (full time) plan to raise them next year
  • ¾ full time free lancers are over the age of 41
  • 65% of workers over 50 expressing the wish to go solo
  • 33% of workers ages 25–34 expressing the wish to go solo
  • Those ages 50 and older are roughly two times more likely to want to work independently than those ages 18–34.
  • 43% of Milennials find it difficult to keep in touch with former colleagues and acquaintances
  • 31% of Gen Xers and boomers find it difficult to keep in touch with former colleagues and acquaintances
  • 70% (41+) worked >8 years in traditional jobs
  • 70% (41+) report having “advanced” technical expertise
  • 64% of adults experience age discrimination in the workplace
  • 92% of that group saying own experiences were common, not just one off frequencies

Thesis: The Millennial generation gains much credit for the rise of the gig economy; studies show that those who most utilize freelance and “gig” work are those ages 41+ due to a desire for freedom, advanced technical experience, and connections with past colleagues.


Article #3: Why Gen-Xers And Baby Boomers Are Beating Millennials At Freelancing

Greenburg, Zack O’Malley. “How Millennials Can Survive And Thrive In The New Economy.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 2 Mar. 2012,

Zack O’Malley Greenburg is a senior editor covering business of music, media, and entertainment at Forbes.

Forbes is a global media company, focusing on business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and lifestyle.


  • October 2012 14% of Americans age 20-24 were unemployed
  • Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies show ½ bachelor’s degree holders under 25 currently works at a job requiring a degree
  • Entering labor market during recession = avg. $100,000 in lost lifetime wages (Yale, Lisa Kahn)
  • 60% of 2010 rads landed job requiring passing the bar exam (Association for Legal Career Professionals)
  • 2/3 of 4-year university class of 2010 had avg. debt of $25,250
  • Sallie Mae, government guaranteed loans, “subsidized” undergrad loans, Uncle Sams’ Income Based Repayment (IBR) Program
  • 52% of 18-30YO liquidated part of their portfolio in 2010 or 2011

Thesis: Many college graduates are attending college, per traditional standards, taking on heavy loads of student debts and learning that chasing “sharp” careers is leaving majorities unemployed and dissatisfied with wellbeing. In the new economy millennial’s must work to survive and thrive by using money saving techniques and following life passions that lead to high reward either monetarily or experientially.



Synthesis: The three articles, taken from varying points following the 2008 crisis, relate to the try-and-fail attitude of the millennial generation. The crisis has left a lasting impact on those experiencing post-grad life and has left many without jobs in their degree-seeking field. These conditions have led to the rise in the “gig” economy and the desire to chase careers that lead to emotional, intellectual, or spiritual fulfillment rather than monetary fulfillment, even if it means a more difficult career path.