Memes are one of the pillars of today’s society. It’s hard to imagine life without them, as they seem to capture everyday situations so well and the rate at which they spread is probably the best example of why the internet really does bring us all closer together.
Most memes you’ve seen dozens of times have an actual backstory attached to them, though. Sadly, this story gets lost most of the time. Let’s take a deep dive into meme history and find the truth behind popular memes.
Overly Attached Girlfriend
This meme all started out on YouTube. Laina Morris, also known as Overly Attached Girlfriend, made a parody video of a Justin Bieber song named “Boyfriend”. She sang the song from the perspective of a stalker girlfriend, and uploaded the entire thing to YouTube. An image from that video would quickly be known as Overly Attached Girlfriend.
As these things go on the internet, loads of people instantly started digging through her personal life, even going as far as messaging her real-life friends. Ironic how her acting like a stalker girlfriend turned her into a victim of cyber stalking.
Luckily for Laina, she kept her cool and kept on making videos. She managed to quit her day job and provide a steady income with nothing but making YouTube videos, which seems like a better job than whatever you and me are doing. She plans to keep her channel going for as long as she can, and we hope she can keep it up for a long time.
Bad Luck Brian
We’ve all seen the picture of this kid that’s posing for a school picture and looks like he’s been screwed over by pretty much everything in life, including genetics. His clothing is awful, he looks weird, he has braces, his eyes look shifty and he has that fashionable 90’s haircut all the kids had back in the day. Kyle Craven – Bad Luck Brian in real life – had this yearbook picture of him posted by a friend and became a meme almost overnight.
Apparently Kyle took the picture in a joke, however. Kyle had a goof where he’d rub his face to make it red, squint his eyes, puff out his jaw and hope for the funniest picture possible. I’m pretty sure he never expected to become a meme, but he’s taken his internet fame like a champ!
There’s really no need for a motivational coach if you’ve heard of the Success Kid meme. There’s so much power that goes with the body language of the toddler in that image. Born as Sammy Griner, Success Kid has become the symbol of motivation for an entire generation of people. While the picture itself doesn’t have a story attached to it, the aftermath has a story that’ll melt your heart.
When Sammy was in elementary school, his dad was fighting a very vicious case of liver failure. He’d been struggling for years, requiring a dialysis almost on a daily basis. The popularity of the meme brought loads of attention to their GoFundMe campaign, allowing them to collect the $100,000 required to fund the treatment for Sammy’s dad. I guess Sammy is a success kid in real life too.
David Mattson – Hipster Barista for people that live on the internet – is one of the very few meme celebrities who actually *is* his meme. He works as a barista and sounds like one of the biggest hipsters you can imagine. This also obviously means that he hates being a meme, because memes are mainstream.
He thinks it’s “discouraging and disappointing” that people mock baristas through his meme where we seem to applaud craft beer, cocktail makers and farm-to-table food. All David really wants is for people who put a milky leaf on top of coffee drinks to be taken seriously. And I’m pretty sure all their parents want is for them to stop being baristas and get a real job.
The Shiba Inu dog that later became known to the world as Doge, was named Kabosu (not to be confused with Kabuto, the Pokémon) before her days as internet celebrity. Kabosu was born in a puppy mill, which was closed shortly after her birth. She and the 19 other dogs were put in a dog shelter, where most were killed.
Kabosu wasn’t one of the killed ones – luckily – and was adopted in 2008 by a Japanese family that gave her all the love a good doggo deserves. The particular “Doge” picture was posted on the owner’s blog in 2010.
The meme reached such heights that they even created a cryptocurrency called Dogecoin, which had a market value of $400 million and more. If that doesn’t convince you that dogs are man’s best friend, I’m not sure anything can.
We all remember the meme about the elderly lady in the college classroom. This wasn’t a staged picture – Nola Ochs did in fact attend college at the ripe age of 94. She attended Fort Hays State University together with her granddaughter, Alexandra. They both graduated as bachelors at the age of 97 and 21 respectively, and Nola even gained her Master of Liberal studies degree the next year.
Nola is currently the world record holder as the oldest college graduate, and she even started working on her PhD credit after obtaining her master’s degree. Sadly, Nola’s amazing story wasn’t meant to last particularly long. She passed away in December 2016, aged 105. She claimed and proved that it’s never too late to chase your dreams, and I think that’s a valuable lesson we can all learn from Nola’s life.
Star Wars Kid
The greatest Jedi Master to ever live and grace the wonderful world of YouTube, Star Wars Kid reached instant fame because of his – somewhat amateuristic – video of him pretending to be a Jedi and doing some lightsaber flicks. His movements were erratic at best and his physique didn’t make them any more graceful either, but the guy sure had a lot of enthusiasm. But the footage of his Jedi moves were actually uploaded without his permission.
The then 14-year old Ghyslain Raza was bullied online and had his footage used in many parody videos – they even inserted him into Star Wars scenes and did spoofs of him in American Dad and South Park. Ghyslain got so low he had to leave school for a while. He now is an avid campaigner against cyber bullying, being on of its first serious victims.