Back when everything was less awful, the internet seemed a land of limitless potential – if we could connect people from around the globe, we could solve to world’s problems! There was optimism in the air, and way fewer dumpster fires than we’ve got burning now.
And what did we do with that golden age of online culture? We made memes, of course! We do it now, too, but I think it’s mostly to keep our eyes and brains of the imminent meltdown of the global world order…or maybe that’s just me?
Regardless, nowadays, any little snippet from Tumblr or whatever can be a meme, but in the good old days, a lot of memes were people (or penguins, or tigers, or bears…). And all those meme people we grew to love and cherish, well, they grew right on up, too:
15. Disaster Girl:
Zoe Roth‘s photo was actually first published in print in 2008, so you could say she was a proto-meme. But don’t, you sound like an ass.
14. Awkward Blinking White Guy:
Drew Scanlon is the rare meme who actually intended to put his face all over the internet – as a video producer at gaming website Giant Bomb, he put up dozens of hours of footage of himself on the web.
13. Bad Luck Brian:
Kyle Craven has been embodying young adult misfortune since 2012 – but the photo was always meant as a joke. He took it in high school on school picture day, but his principal, who knew he was the class clown, made him retake his portrait. The photo only exists because he and his friend scanned the original before it got thrown away.
12. First World Problem Woman:
Silvia Bottini is an Italian actress and sometime stock photo model – in fact, according to her Imdb, she is “the most sold Italian [stock photo] model in the world, with 25,000 images downloaded.”
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Maggie said what all memes must feel: “I just can’t believe this is my 15 minutes of fame—I was hoping it would come in another form. But I guess you have to take what you can get.”
10. Side Eye Chloe:
9. Overly Attached Girlfriend:
Laina translated her memehood into financial success – she now has a comedy youtube channel with over 1 million subscribers.
8. Success Kid:
Sammy Griner used his fame to successfully raise >$100,000 for his dad who needed a kidney transplant.