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The ‘We used to be a country’ meme pokes fun at American nostalgia

People are dragging this MAGA Twitter user for a nostalgic post about 1970s 7-11 stores.

 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Published Dec 9, 2021   Updated Dec 9, 2021, 10:10 am CST

The “We used to be a country” meme is everywhere right now, professing patriotic nostalgia for a wild range of stuff from McDonald’s arcade games to the Communist Party of the 1930s. Some examples are relatively sincere (nostalgia for millennial YA novels, anyone?) while others are more satirical. But what, exactly, is this meme meant to meme?

The originating post is a tweet featuring a photo of a 1970s 7-Eleven store, accompanied by the caption, “We used to be a country. A proper country.”

Posted by a Twitter user with #MAGA in their profile, it was widely interpreted as an anti-mask statement, highlighting the lack of masks in 1970s stores. It’s also a familiar brand of 20th century “things were better in the old days” conservative nostalgia.

Usually when we see this kind of post, it depicts something more pastoral and romantic—or a sexist view of family life in the 1950s. But the absurdity of 1970s 7-Eleven nostalgia was a step beyond this trope, prompting a flood of derisive copycats.

Soon, Twitter exploded with callbacks to the beauty of 1990s Kmart, decade-old mobile games, and quaaludes.

Some people also took the original post more seriously, critiquing the idea of 1970s nostalgia. But for the most part, the dunks kept coming—including people pointing out that 7-Elevens really haven’t changed that much.

“I assure you,” wrote one Twitter user, “if you go into a 7/11 right now you can buy a cup of coffee from a man with a receding hairline just as easily as they did in 1973.”

If you think that mustard-colored 7-Eleven store was the peak of American culture, it’s probably time to reexamine some things.

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*First Published: Dec 9, 2021, 9:09 am CST