At this point, the story of how an internet meme allegedly destroyed the career of model Heidi Yeh, who says that she can no longer get work as a model because of a widely circulated, photoshopped advertisement for plastic surgery that she starred in. The Internet is a cruel place, and though many of us have made some of our closest friends online, anyone can access it -- which means the worst of the worst people can get to you at any second. In fact, this was far from the first time a rumor, meme, or internet trend seriously damaged someone's day-to-day life. Oh, what a world wide web we weave...
1. Star Wars Kid
One of the oldest tales of this widespread internet jerk virus is that of then-high school student Ghyslain Raza, a Star Wars fan who recorded himself attempting to recreate the moves of Ray Park's Darth Maul -- to little success. He originally made the video as a school project, but his classmates stole it, posted it to the internet, and made the footage into one of the first known viral memes.
It didn't take long for his already antagonistic classmates to start bullying him, and once people across the world had their hands on the footage, Raza's family began receiving death threats. According to NPR:
... he became depressed and dropped out of school to go to a children's psychiatric ward. Raza's family initiated a lawsuit against the families of the four students who posted the video online. The family eventually dropped one of the cases and settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
2. Kylie Jenner Lips Gone Wrong
Many people have tried o recreate the looks of celebrities through make-up, contouring, and at times plastic surgery. But when this fad hit the scene, certain attempts at the plump-lip look went horribly wrong.
Jenner's tutorial evidently encouraged teens to inhale while covering their lips with glass, forcing their pouts to plump inside of the glass -- but it didn't work out so well for everyone. The gruesome results take this trend straight to the border of memetown.
3. In Which The Internet Bullied a Toddler
Mariah Andersen was born with Chromosome Two Duplication Syndrome, which is a rare disorder that impairs her learning and motor skills. When images from her second birthday made it onto the internet earlier this year, the toddler - who appears happy in the photos - was instantly turned into an internet meme, with macros and horrible tweets that described her as a "leprechaun".
Her mother, Kyra Pringle, tearfully described the situation to WBCD, then said:
The smile that you guys think is funny or the smile that you guys are comparing to a leprechaun, the things you guys are saying about my child; she's not a monster; she's real.
As of this writing, Mariah is still fighting forward according to her mother on Facebook.
4. Nobody Wants To Go Swimming With Dudes Like This, Trust Me
Lately, women everywhere have made huge strides to fight against the standards set by the media and impossible photoshopping. When 20-year-old Ashley VanPevenage asked her make-up artist to help her cover-up a breakout due to an allergic reaction, the image was reposted to twitter, and went viral in some of the cruelest ways.
The initial wide-spread tweet wasn't exceptionally terrible, but what followed came in the conventional format of Boys Who Don't Yet Understand How The World Works.
Between guys who seemingly don't understand what eyeliner is and the repost bots that spread her photo across the internet, VanPevenage eventually had enough. She created a video calling out her bullies, fearless in the face of furious keyboard warriors.
5. Ermahgerd, Internet, Chill Out
Another reddit breakout meme, Ermahgerd (or "Berks") exploded in 2012. R.L. Stine isn't a fan of this particular meme -- in fact, an awkward interview pretty much ruined the whole thing for him:
Interviewer: Do you know the meme ‘Ermahgerd’? It’s one of the most popular memes on the Internet this past year.
R.L. Stine: Yes. You’re the third person to ask me about it today.
Interviewer: Will you pose for a picture with me wearing this Ermahgerd wig?
R.L. Stine: No. No, I will not. I have to say, I don’t really understand what’s funny about it.
Interviewer: I don’t know, man, it’s just ‘Ermahgerd’!
R.L. Stine: Well I’m on Twitter and about five people a day say, ‘Have you seen this?’ I just don’t get it. I don’t get it.
But then, the author of the Goosebumps series hasn't had to live with the aftermath of the meme. See, it focuses on Maggie Goldenberger, a young women who had mostly escaped the limelight until last month. Maggie's story was posted by Vanity Fair, detailing what started out as a harmless internet meme until her identity was discovered. Then, things got weird:
An online quest to identify “Berks,” however, did cause Goldenberger some distress: her real name started getting attached to the pictures, and an anonymous bounty hunter tracked down and uploaded a photo of her on a beach in Hawaii in a bikini. This second picture—it was actually of her this time, Goldenberger said, not a character—attracted some nasty comments. It was the only really hurtful episode of the experience.
At the end of the day, Goldenberger is happy to leave the meme behind and move on with her life, taking it all in stride and saying, "It was a middle schooler’s perspective of what funny is, so I’m always surprised when adults are such fans. It’s essentially making fun of a nerdy girl for being excited about books ... So what? I'm always baffled that it still comes up three years later."
In the end, many of the familiar faces that you may know throughout the history of the internet have moved on, and are doing fine. In fact, certain people have even built a career out of it, such as the hilarious Laina Morris (a.k.a. Overly Attached Girlfriend). But when all is said and done, the internet can be harsh, and it's important to remember the words of Taylor Swift in your most desperate hour (or at least before you can contact your lawyers):