Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
10 January 2017updated 09 Sep 2021 2:33pm

Living the Meme: What is life like for the internet famous?

A series of articles exploring what happens to people after they go viral.

By Amelia Tait

Memes are many things to many people. They are screenshots, videos, pictures, cartoons, sayings, catchphrases and, most importantly, dogs. 

But more often than not, there is a real human being behind each of the memes we come to know and love. How does it feel to have your face unwittingly thrust in the limelight, available online for all to see? How do children who go viral online feel as they grow up? When does the internet fame end and normal life resume? Just how much money can a meme make anyway?

“Living the Meme” is a series of articles in which I interview the stars of viral images and videos to find out the answers to these questions, and more. 

Check out the individual stories here:

What happened to Azeem’s flute recital?

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A weekly round-up of The New Statesman's climate, environment and sustainability content. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

In 2015, over 100,000 Britons RSVP’d to a University of California student’s flute recital. One year later, he discusses how life has – and hasn’t – changed. 

What happened to One Pound Fish man?

Muhammad Shahid Nazir Ahmad appeared on The X Factor after his song about “very, very nice” fish went viral. But are rumours of his deportation true?

Content from our partners
Cyber security is a team game
Why consistency matters
Community safety includes cyber security

What happened to that guy who filmed a double rainbow?

“What does it mean?” asked Paul Vasquez when he filmed a double rainbow in the sky. Seven years later, he’s still asking the same question. 

What happened to David after David After the Dentist?

How does going viral aged seven affect you as you become a teenager? David DeVore explains.

What happened to Success Kid?

Nine years after his baby picture became a meme, Sammy Griner says he wants to be known for more than just the photo.

What happened to the Ermahgerd girl?

Maggie Goldenberger reveals that she is not the Ermahgerd girl – not really. 

What happened to King Curtis, the “Bacon is good for me!” boy?

After becoming the most quoted seven-year-old boy on the internet, Curtis Holland talks about life as his town’s “movie star”.

What happened to Harambe? A telephatic animal communicator tells all

One year on from the gorilla’s fateful death, Harambe speaks about how he feels. 

What happened to the Hipster Barista?

In 2011, Dustin Mattson’s staff picture became the symbol for everything wrong with hipster culture. How did this make him feel? 

What happened to the bunny with a pancake on its head?

Sixteen years ago, a domestic Japanese rabbit became one of the first absurdist memes. His owner reflects on the phenomenon. 

To suggest an interviewee for Living the Meme, contact Amelia on Twitter.

Topics in this article: