It was just another boring Mathematics class, sitting through two hours of geometry hoping for a miracle to turn up. Totally out of the blue, ping, shattering the silence rang a notification. “XYZ has tagged you in a post”, With my curiosity kicking an all-time high I went for the tap, all of a sudden, I sent an unconscious snicker which was swiftly accompanied by awkward glances from my neighbors!! Boy! had I bungled up big time!
For many people memes have become a trustworthy source of entertainment, From the 10 minutes spent every morning with the toothbrush glued to our mouth to the endless hours spent pretending you were listening to the lecture while all along you were just scrolling through Chuck Norris memes. What once started as an innocent joke is now one of the biggest internet phenomena that are shaking up the world. Most of these people who have featured in the meme never set out to be famous, it just happened, one unfortunate high school picture, one ill timed-snap, and BANG!! the rest is history.
While a sizeable chunk has only enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame in the internet spotlight, only some were able to take it a notch further. Take Kyle Craven or as you probably know him, Bad Luck Brian, this 22-year-old college graduate from Ohio was not only able to savor his shot in the spotlight but was also able to capitalize from it. With the help of Reddit, an old-time friend, and a photo that would eventually adorn the landscape of the internet, Bad Luck Brian was born as Craven’s geeky sophomore face trended its way into overnight fame. His face appeared on blogs, T-Shirts, coffee mugs, paperweights and he was even invited to Internet conventions across the country. Unlike any other memes out there, Craven seems to relish the attention he has received over the past years.
“I took the picture as a joke back in the day. I didn’t really look that awful. I rubbed my eyes, made the goofy smile, wore the vest and all that.”
Kyle Craven estimates he has made over $20000 dollars on Bad Luck Brian licensing deals.
Now that you’ve braved your way so far, you should’ve probably realized not all is rosy, the internet is one cruel mistress, hiding behind every misjudged tweet, every ill-timed click is some very damaging outcomes for some very real people. When this small town Taiwanese model, Heidi Yeh, signed up for a photo shoot, little did she know it would end up being her career last.
The advertisement shot for a local cosmetic clinic was meant to encourage people to consider plastic surgery. The ad featured two photogenic couples and three children who were digitally altered to look aesthetically different from their parents with a caption attached.
“The only thing you’ll ever have to worry about is how to explain it to the kids”
The photo was only meant to be featured in local magazines, but as fate would have it, eventually made its way onto the internet wherein it was turned into a meme with the caption, ‘Plastic Surgery: You can’t hide it forever’ detailing how she was actually lying to her husband about having undergone plastic surgery.
During an interview with BBC Heidi quotes:
“I thought it was just rumors, then I realized the whole world was spreading this story in different languages. Even my relatives and fiancé’s family have asked me about it. I’ve broken down many times crying and I haven’t been able to sleep”.
Mrs. Yeh who once adorned the billboards of major companies such as KFC, Vaio hasn’t been able to land any major modeling contracts since due to her affiliation with the ad and estimates she has lost over $120000 in potential earnings.
Not all memes have such dramatic outcomes, some just seem to fade away without much harm for those featured in it.And you know what makes it better, some of them will probably never get to know they are a meme :P .
While it’s hard to believe that your everyday memes stem from average experiences of regular folks like us, what makes it more amusing is the people never realize their role in the meme until years later when news trickles down to them. While the chances of you not becoming a meme is pretty high, on the off chance you are, buckle up…it’s going to be one choppy ride. Now that you’ve heard the pros and cons of memes, what’s your take on it?