Being famous on the internet is a strange thing. With photos of us scattered everywhere, it’s never been easier for someone to build a whole new identity around your image, based entirely on a stupid joke (or a genius one).
New SBS documentary The Internet Ruined My Life, explores the dark side of what happens when the world wide web has brought people the wrong kind of attention.
While things ended up nightmarish for the people featured in the fascinating new doco - at least the subjects of THESE infamous memes have had a slightly easier time...mostly.
1. Zoe Roth (Disaster Girl)
She was watching some firefighters doing a demonstration when her dad snapped the original photo, and he turned out to be the man who made Zoe a meme – calling the image “Firestarter”. She’s since been blamed for everything from the sinking of the Titanic to the bombing of Hiroshima...in between appearances on Dad’s Flickr account.
2. Silvia Bottini (First World Problems Girl)
If anyone is going to have First World Problems, it’s going to be an Italian model and actress. Before she became the spokesperson for slightly cold coffee and having to wake up early now you’ve got a job, Silvia appeared in productions of Romeo and Juliet and Alice in Wonderland. She’s aware of her fame as a meme, remarking in a comment on Flickr, “On web it is oftenly used illegally, so that sometimes I found very dirty words on the picture...”
3. Blake Boston (Scumbag Steve)
This is a rough deal. Imagine becoming the face of every bastardly act possible, purely because your mum went on MySpace and posted a photo of you looking somewhat dodgy in a dumb hat and fur coat. That’s been Blake’s fate, and he embraces the identity, even running his own YouTube channel based around the persona.
Meanwhile, Scumbag Steve continues to welch on bets, wipe Dorito-stained hands on your cat and desperately wish he was as popular as Good Guy Greg.
4. Laina Morris (Overly Attached Girlfriend)
The worst examples of this meme are thinly veiled misogyny, while the best examples are hilariously OTT observational humour. It’s a fine line, but Laina doesn’t seem to be bothered by her unsought position as the ultimate in clinginess. In fact, she’s parlayed her notoriety into a career making YouTube videos.
5. Maggie Goldenberger (Ermahgerd Girl)
She seemed to be caught in a moment of pure, unattractive pleasure at the thought of Goosebumps (or GERSBERMS!) books, but the fun was mildly spoiled in 2015 when Maggie revealed to Vanity Fair that she was pulling that face on purpose. Nevertheless, she’s gone on to be ridiculously overexcited about politics, puppies and mashed potatoes (perderders).
6. Zeddie Little (Ridiculously Photogenic Guy)
Snapped a moment after he waved to a friend while running a marathon, Zeddie seized the imagination of the online world by looking handsome in a moment that would leave most people sweaty, dishevelled and bright red. If you’re going to be made into a meme, this is the one to aim for.
7. Kyle Craven (Bad Luck Brian)
Everyone has a funny school photo lurking in the past, but Kyle’s goofy smile awoke something in the internet hivemind. Radiating boundless optimism, his meme-ish alter ego falls victim to constant tragedies. In contrast, Kyle himself has embraced the fame, as you can see from his Facebook page.
Most of these guys got off pretty easy, and some have even benefited from their notoriety - but they're the lucky ones. Accidental internet notoriety can ruin people's lives - as some of these guys found out all too easily:
Hear all of their cautionary tales in The Internet Ruined My Life - premiering Thursday, 14 July at 9.35pm on SBS 2.