Mesa Legend

Memes tell the wrong story: media users beware


Allison Cripe
Mesa Legend

Memes can entertain us, make us laugh, make us cringe, and according to model Heidi Yeah, they can also ruin our lives.Heidi is a model from Taiwan who shot an advertisement with a male model for a plastic surgery company.In the photo the two models are posing as a married couple. He is wearing a suited tux and his ‘wife’, expensive jewelry and a shining white gown. Their three children are seated at their feet, one girl and two little boys who look nothing like their parents.  Whose features had been digitally altered to make them appear ‘ugly.’ Flat noses, small eyes, awkward smiles. Because of the accessibility of the internet the photo was found and turned into a meme which reads: “Plastic surgery, you can’t hide it forever.”

The meme spread throughout Asia and then internationally, being posted and re-posted hundreds of times.  People started creating stories about the image and the children and worse yet, people started believing the stories as fact. That this was a real family photo where the husband was staring to question his wife’s past surgeries.  That he was realizing she had plastic surgery after the birth of their children. That there had even been a lawsuit involved. At this point, the story started spiraling out of control and Heidi’s real life was affected. She claims it ruined her actual love life because her significant other felt he could no longer trust her.  Her boyfriend ended their relationship, his friends were believing the rumors that the meme had created, and even her close friends were asking her if she’d had plastic surgery.

Even relatives were skeptical as to what the real story was and wondering what was going on in her personal life.  Thus, her modeling career also started taking a hit as she was hired less and less for work. This is why people must be more attentive as to what they put on the web. When an image is used publicly and able to get a hold of in seconds, the possibilities are endless for meme creators.  And on a whole, we enjoy memes. If brevity is the soul of wit, then this philosophy certainly applies to some memes where one look can send someone into a fit of laughter for minutes.  They’re mostly harmless, they’re mostly created for fun and not to harm.  However, humor varies.

For the individuals with darker taste, they might see no problem in taking horrific family photos and making them widespread with hurtful messages.  They don’t care about what happens to others, they’re busy having a laugh. There is literally nothing that can be done when a photo is on the web. It’s instant material. Therefore since memes will not be going away anytime soon, it is the responsibility of individuals on social websites to keep their embarrassing personal photos private. To keep personal videos to themselves and under wraps. For models and individuals in the public to really consider what kind of jobs they’re taking and how things can be misconstrued by creative web users.

To remember that the internet is public and it is everyone’s sole responsibility to manage their own reputation and public image. Perhaps someday meme creators will have larger hearts instead of using others for entertainment without their permission and no thought of consequences.  However, for now, social media users will just have to be careful.

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