Blake Boston, the young man who appears in the "Scumbag Steve" photo-meme (a picture of a teenager in a sort of "urban" outfit, captioned with various wry sayings that imply that "Steve" is kind of a jerk) sent a moving and sensible letter to "Annoying Facebook Girl" (another meme-unfortunate, featuring a photo of a girl pulling a face, captioned with expressions of enthusiasm over irrelevancies). Boston/Steve has clearly experienced a serious impact on his life as a result of his meme-status, and has given the matter a lot of thought.
But here’s what I need you to know. When you go off to college, and you’re walking down the hall and a group of kids see you and scream, “Oh my god it’s Annoying Facebook Girl,” don’t cry. You see. Some people can’t distinguish the internet from real life. There are people who refuse to believe my name isn’t Steve and that I am not really the scumbag (well not all the time, that is). Just remember who you are. And that you know you’re a decent kid.
You’re going to be in shock for a while, when you see what people have written. But the most important and self-preserving thing you can do is know that it’s not you. You can’t take this personally. I’ll say that again, you can’t take this personally. Hell if I did… well let’s not go there.
The part that will suck though is that there will always be those people that somehow think YOU did this, that you made the meme, and that you could stop it if you wanted to. That you have some control over it. You don’t. The internet birthed you and they’ll decide when you (the meme) will die.
There will also be those people who assuage their guilt by telling you how great it is, how lucky you are to be a meme. Just smile. What they are really saying is, thank god it wasn’t me.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.