I knew I had become part of a meme but holy crap…

A new Facebook friend asked me if it was me in the meme picturing a bearded guy looking over his shoulder with a pigeon and chessboard in front of him. I told him that I am indeed that guy.

It can get messy

It can get messy

He then asked if it felt weird when I started seeing such things on the internet and in the process of composing my response to his question I did a Google image search based on my original picture and discovered that my likeness had been added to a meme generator. Now, I knew that my picture was “out there” and even blogged about the fact my mug had been stuck into a “demotivation” style meme but it is still a rather odd thing to find a picture of yourself repeated over and over dozens of times with all sorts of different words plastered over top of them.

Most are variations of the original quote, though they often substitute “creationists” with “liberals”, “Republicans”, or whatever political point of view the various meme authors find objectionable. Some replace “creationists” with Christians in general and at least one changes it to Muslims. Others exchange “creationists” for the names of specific people—no doubt the result of dimly remembered arguments taking place forgotten discussion boards—and some take shots at the fans of disfavored sports teams:

Some stray from the original form but seem to be improvising based on the general theme:

A few were taking shots at President Obama’s handling of the war in Iraq:

At least one seemed to take issue with the premise:

Still others are indecipherable by me:

So, yes, as I told my FB friend, it is kind of weird. Especially when I see it used in ways I am either ambivalent about or in ways I would probably rather it not be used. For example, some used homophobic slurs, or rude terms for the mentally disabled and a few even attacked political or philosophical views that I have sympathies with.

Still, I am “Zen” about it. The internet is the modern day Wild West, and once you put a picture of yourself out there you have lost control. It is just something you have to get used to if you want to play in the game.

Though, with all these bits of me (get it?) floating around the net, there aught to be a way for me to get my beak wet (get it?) on the deal…


6 thoughts on “I knew I had become part of a meme but holy crap…

  1. Especially when I see it used in ways I am either ambivalent about or in ways I would probably rather it not be used.

    Fighting against inappropriate use of your image by “meme generator” or “demotivational poster generator” systems is kind-of like playing chess with pigeons.
    I suspect that taking a zen-like attitude to it is about your only option. You could try preparing an alternative version of the image with (e.g.) a “copyright [blah] – not to be re-used without prior written permission” text banner across the image, then asking the site which is re-using your image to stop using the one they’ve got and to use the one with your copyright notice instead. I suspect they’d ignore the message though, and without a pet lawyer (or writing a carefully phrased letter to their lawyer yourself), things are likely to get expensive. (Does America have a procedure for filing “small” claims – up to a few thousand dollars – without using a lawyer ; from what I hear that may be tantamount to suicide, but it’s your country, not mine. It’s a process I’ve used in the UK, and am considering using again.)


  2. It’s not worth worrying about. As long as no one tries to ascribe some objectionable sentiment in one of the memes to me personally, merely because it is my picture (which would be utter nonsense) then I am not terribly bothered. It could be a lot worse. I could be one of those poor individuals whose images are not merely used to send something potentially objectionable but are instead offered up as objects of scorn in and of themselves. For example a photo taken when someone was making a particularly weird face or a picture of someone thought to not measure up societal measures of beauty, handsomeness, or “coolness”. I mean, I have nothing to complain about compared to this guy who is a frequently featured in unflattering memes:

    Imagine if your image became a standard representation of someone who was overweight and unattractive. It would be like the old joke about how if you look up the word ugly (or some other negative thing) in the dictionary you’ll find a picture of so-and-so in there, come to life.


  3. Hey, I’m just glad it’s not *my* face. Though this quote isn’t a bad thing to have attached to my name, I don’t think I’d be as zen as you seeing my face attached to slogans I find distasteful, such as the bigoted ones, or those actually inverting the meaning of what I said.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s