Since its inception in 1990, the World Wide Web – invented by computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee – has revolutionized humanity. We now shop online, order take-out online, study online, look through photo albums online, make travel arrangements online, game online, talk, gawk, and stalk online!
In fact, I couldn’t imagine having to do so many daily tasks without the internet. I wouldn’t have survived university by actually reading books, and I could never get through my Christmas shopping without Amazon. But perhaps the biggest change is the way we communicate with one another.
From email to MSN to MySpace to Skype to Facebook – it is now easier than ever to start a conversation with somebody on the other side of the planet. Social Media has allowed us to chat with our friends and family, keep up-to-date their lives, and even plan parties and events without sending one thing in the post. It’s truly made the world a smaller place.
And following the rise of social media in the noughties, we have seen many “trends” come and go – with some becoming iconic, and others more… moronic. For example, everybody out there now converses using emojis, and every year people genuinely get excited to see what new emojis the next updates will bring (here’s looking at you redheads). We’ve seen positive challenges, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge, raise millions for charity, and we’ve also seen a slew of idiots eat detergent in the Tide Pod Challenge.
But if there’s one thing that has stayed around far longer than anybody would have ever imagined, it is the humble meme. If you’re truly out of the loop, a meme is defined as “an image, video, piece of text, etc, typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations”.
Basically, they’re funny pictures and videos of relatable things, often with a funny caption. And over the years, the subjects within these memes have become unintentional celebrities… for doing absolutely nothing except having a sharable expression. Now, we’re taking a look at these very modern stars have changed since being immortalized on the web.
1. Success Kid (Sam Griner)
Never before has a child epitomized the feeling of success more than Sam Griner. After his mom, Laney Griner, uploaded the picture to Flickr in 2007 (yes, it really was that long ago), she never thought she would have turned her young son into a viral star.
Sam was actually trying to eat the sand when the picture was taken, and Laney originally captioned the image ‘I Hate Sandcastles’, but his triumphant expression soon transformed him into the ‘Success Kid’.
2. Side-Eyeing Chloe (Chloe)
In one of my favorite videos on YouTube, Chloe and older sister Lily are surprised by their parents with a trip to Disneyland. However, whilst Lily starts to cry in delight when the camera pans to Chloe, she stares straight into the lens with a “WTF is going on?” expression. It is hilarious.
Amazingly, Chloe’s expression transformed her into “Sid- Eyeing Chloe”, the perfect meme for when people wanted to express their unimpressed disbelief to whatever was going on in the world.
3. Disaster Girl (Zoe Roth)
She could have been a cast member from Village of the Damned with that demonic expression. However, a young Zoe Roth was not taking sick pleasure in the destruction of a house she had just burned to the ground, she was just enjoying a training drill by the local fire department two blocks away from her home in Mebane, North Carolina.
The picture was taken all the way back in 2004 by her father, Dave Roth, and now that Zoe is looking to complete college, she said: “I’d love for the meme to help me get into or pay for college somehow. But I ultimately want people to know me for me.”
4. Trying To Hold A Fart Next To A Cute Girl In Class (Michael McGee)
On March 2, 2014, Redditor aaduk_ala submitted a humorous picture titled, ‘Trying to hold a fart next to a cute girl in class’ to the /r/funny subreddit. It wasn’t long before his strained expression was seen across all of social media.
When asked whether he had any regret about his unexpected fame, McGee responded: “My take on being ‘internet famous’ is cool and all. But I regret not copyrighting the picture right away because I could have made a lot of money there!” Ironically, his expression would be my face if I were to discover that I could have made thousands of dollars by copyrighting one silly picture.
5. Scumbag Steve (Blake Boston)
I have so many personal memories of using this meme whilst at college. In fact, I became a “Scumbag Steve” after waking up my dorm friend every two weeks at 6 am because I needed to use his printer.
The first known time this image was posted on Reddit was January 21, 2011, and it wasn’t long before a commenter in the Reddit thread identified the young man in the pic as Blake Boston (also known as “Weezy B.”)
In an interview with Know Your Meme, Blake revealed that the picture was originally taken by his mother. “I have no regrets in my life… no matter what I do. I can completely f**k up on something and I still don’t regret it. Because at the end of the day, that makes me who I am, so I wouldn’t go back and erase anything, if I were to go back in time.” I think we can all agree that Weezy B. is a very cool guy…
6. Overly Attached Girlfriend (Laina Morris)
Back in 2012, Justin Bieber asked his dedicated followers to enter an online sing-off competition in order to promote his celebrity perfume ‘Girlfriend’. In response to this, YouTuber Laina Morris uploaded a simplistic webcam video in which she performed a parody version of Justin Bieber’s single ‘Boyfriend’, with her own personalized lyrics.
Morris’ over-the-top expressions immediately led to her face being used to symbolize the ‘Overly Attached Girlfriend’, but sadly, she did encounter several issues regarding her fame: “Strangers were finding my personal Facebook page and talking to my friends. They were finding where I worked and trying to access my college records”.
7. Good Luck Charlie (Mia Talerico)
Actress Mia Talerico’s exaggerated “I don’t know” face from an episode of Disney’s Good Luck Charlie has taken comments sections by storm. And thanks to her charismatic acting, the nine-year-old now has over 1 million followers on Instagram.
I’m 26 and have under 400. Where did it all go wrong?
*I don’t know*
8. Bad Luck Brian (Kyle Craven)
Fake News! Did you know that the guy in the picture is not actually called Brian? His name is Kyle Craven. Used to symbolize bad luck, the very first use of Craven’s image was first posted on January 23, 2012, by his long-time friend, along with the caption “Takes driving test .?.?. gets first DUI.”
9. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy (Zeddie Little)
I think we can all agree that we have never looked this good whilst exercising. When I’m at the gym, my expression closely resembles that of when I’m perched on the toilet.
However, Zeddie Little, AKA “Ridiculously Photogenic Guy”, was snapped running in the 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run whilst looking impeccable. Literally better than I’ve ever looked in my life.
When asked about his newfound fame, Little responded: “I really don’t know, but I kinda feel honored to be part of a joke that’s in good spirit because sometimes the Internet can be a little vicious or jokes can get bent the wrong way. But these are all kinda, for the most part, positive. It’s funny that everybody is kinda taking like to it. It’s, I guess, the most flattering way to get spread across the Internet.”
10. Ermahgerd (Maggie Goldenberger)
For those of you out of the loop, “ermahgerd” is a rhotacized pronunciation of “oh my God”, in order to recreate the speech of a nerd (sorry Maggie).
This meme first emerged on March 14, 2012, along with the caption: “Just a book owners smile…”. The girl in the meme, Maggie Goldenberger, said that the picture was created in fourth or fifth grade when she and her friends seriously got into playing dress-up. It’s good to see she’s got a sense of humor about the whole thing, because I can think of about 734 pictures of me from high school that could have been used in the exact same way, and it would have destroyed my life.
11. Grumpy Cat
There’s a face only a mother can love.
Grumpy Cat – the appropriate nickname given to Tardar Sauce – is an always-moody-looking snowshoe cat that rose to fame after several pics of her annoyed facial expressions were posted to Reddit in September 2012. According to Huffington Post, Grumpy Cat now has a reported net worth of $100 million! That’s right, this cat has more money than you ever will.
12. First World Problems (Silvia Bottini)
Amazingly, this is no bog-standard stock-image model. Silvia Bottini is actually a relatively successful Italian actress.
13. Blinking White Guy (Drew Scanlon)
This perfect GIF originally came from a live stream shot back in 2013, when Drew Scanlon was a video producer at the popular gaming website Giant Bomb.
During one of the team’s weekly “Unprofessional Fridays” shows, Scanlon watched as the editor-in-chief played Starbound, a two-dimensional action-adventure game.
However, things got a little awkward when Gerstmann said: “So I’ve been doing some farming… with my hoe.” Scanlon reacted with the bewildered expression now known as the “Blinking White Guy”.
14. Hipster Barista (Dustin Mattson)
Even though this meme has become more appropriate for every year it has existed, it was originally uploaded to in August 2011! However, the guy in the picture, Dustin Mattson, has not seen the funny side:
“I do find it discouraging and disappointing that there was so much exposure brought to an attempt at making a joke of a culinary industry and the professional barista. To me, it’s very telling on how we laud farm-to-table food, craft beer, cocktail mixology, but it’s ok to have no respect for the specialty coffee world and the people who are committed to it. On the other hand, the whole thing only makes me want to work harder at my job, make better coffee, serve my customers better, and bring more positive exposure to both the company I work for, the barista profession, and specialty coffee as a whole. If anyone were to see my and my coworkers’ work in the café, they’d see that it doesn’t quite match up to most of the jokes made against the ‘Hipster Barista’.”
I’m just going to put this out there: I love Doge.
Back in February 2010, a Japanese kindergarten teacher called Atsuko Sato posted several photos of her rescue-adopted Shiba Inu dog Kabosu to her personal blog – it is something we have all done. However, unlike with me and my Yorkshire terrier, Sato’s photos went viral and the world fell in love with the side-eyed confused pup. The best of boys!
So there you have it! And although so many of these unintentional internet celebrities have changed so much since their images were originally posted to the web, there’s no doubt we’ll always remember them for the hilarious memes they spawned.