In today’s age of selfies, cell phones, internet, and social media, you truly never know when your fifteen minutes in the limelight might begin.
For instance, take this kid – he was simply toiling away at his after school Target job when someone snapped a candid shot that went viral. In the post, Twitter user @auscalem called him “Alex from Target,” and the 16-year-old became a sensation.
Alex’s slide into notoriety wasn’t totally smooth sailing, but he’s now embraced his newfound fame and is even thinking about a career as an actor. “I’ve been auditioning for movies and TV shows and stuff,” he told j-14 last year.
He is an internet meme success story, though life hasn’t exactly been ruined for any of the people listed below:
#14. College Freshman
When Reader’s Digest asked freshman Griffin Kiritsy to do an interview and photo shoot on the University of New Hampshire campus he thought, “no big deal. I can pose for a few snapshots.”
Little did he know that the images would go from a bunch of pretty boring articles about freshman life and college finances to Reddit, the front page of the internet. Once the Reddit community got their hands on the photos, Griffin became forever enshrined as “College Freshman,” the bumbling, clueless young adult who’s sheer ineptitude seems likely to get him killed.
In a Reddit chat, Kiritsy admitted that many of the memes reflected his real life as a college freshman, saying, “the laundry jokes, the bragging about parties I went to, and all of the dying ones happened to me.” He also reports that being a meme hasn’t ruined his life: “I plan on being the College Freshman until … I die.”
#13. Suburban Mom
Romance novelist and mother of two Carly Phillips surely never thought that taking new author photos in 2011 would lead to meme-hood; however, one of those photos was appropriated for the Sheltering Suburban Mom series on Reddit. Phillips only learned about this fact last year, thanks to a Reddit user who posted a link on her Facebook fan page.
When someone explained to her that her image was used to make jokes about uptight, hypocritical, and sometimes racist suburban mothers, Philips said her “initial reaction was horror and fury and hurt.”
She eventually came to accept the fact that the jokes weren’t about her, but about hypocritical helicopter moms worldwide, and that made her feel a bit better about the whole thing.
“I never want anyone who sees it to think that I, the real mom/person … believes any of that stuff, especially the derogatory, inflammatory, prejudiced things in there.”
#12. Skeptical Baby
One day in 2011, on a perfectly innocent outing to take some family photographs, Dave, Rhiannon, and their son Mason went to the Museum of Natural Sciences. The pictures, taken by photographer Jarod Knoten, came out so adorably well that dad Dave posted one to Reddit. Within hours, little Mason was front and center in a brand new meme.
Skeptical Baby just can’t believe all the things he’s been lied to about in his short life – and by the adults he’s supposed to trust! The joke usually follows the “You mean to tell me…” format, but there are a few variations.
#11. Sheltered College Freshman
Kerin Portillo is a model who lives in Bogota, Colombia. Since she posts photos to stock photo sites like iStockphoto, she’s not exactly a stranger to seeing her face pop up in random places. That said, she certainly didn’t expect it when these images of her as part of a crowd of students in a library were cropped to make her the star – as Sheltered College Freshman.
The meme is pretty much exactly what you’d expect, with captions about misunderstood slang and sexual innuendo, but occasionally they expose the genuine surprise some eighteen-year-olds have when they find out how much work life can actually be.
#10. Senior Freshman
You didn’t think after the internet learned that Nola Ochs graduated from Fort Hays State University at the age of 95 and set a Guinness World Record in the process that they’d be able to pass it up, did you?
Of course not!
Since then, the woman has been known as “Senior Freshman,” an elderly student who doesn’t need to learn about the past 100 years of history – she lived them. Ochs is now 102 and has not commented publicly on her stardom. She may not even be aware of it!
Oh, and get this – she went on to earn a Master’s degree in Liberal Studies at the age of 98, graduating alongside her own granddaughter.