Real People Behind Those Internet Memes

In case you're unfamiliar with the term "meme," it's defined by Google as "a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users." In other words, memes are those pictures and GIFs that people post in Facebook and comment threads that make you think "Who has time in their life to make these things?" Some memes have become so ubiquitous they now have their own identity which in turn lend a sort of minor celebrity status to the actual people whose photo winds up getting passed all over the Internet for lulz. Here is a list of some of the most popular memes and the real, live humans they're based on.

Blake Boston - Scumbag Steve

According to Know Your Meme, a website dedicated to the research and verification of memes, Scumbag Steve's real name is Blake Boston. He's an aspiring rapper and self-proclaimed former d-bag who unwillingly fell into the annals of Internet fame when his mom started a Myspace page. She was taking photography classes and snapped the now infamous shot of Blake in his flat-brimmed "A-Tooth" Red Sox hat and fur coat that became the base photo for a meme that pokes fun at racial stereotypes, general jerk behavior, and people who ruin parties. Blake embraces his Internet fame despite some ugly run-ins with the unfortunate negative side, which for some reason approached him with death threats and harassment. We would ask if these people realize that Scumbag Steve is just a fictional character, but we don't expect a reasoned, logical response from anonymous keyboard warriors.

Kyle Craven - Bad Luck Brian

Bad Luck Brian is the personification of schadenfreude—which means to laugh at the misfortune of others. It sounds mean, but Kyle Craven doesn't mind. In fact, according to an interview with The Washington Post, the photo used for the meme was a picture day outtake that his middle school principal rejected, because Kyle was obviously hamming it up for a gag. Years later, Kyle's friend used the photo to create the first Bad Luck Brian meme and posted it to Reddit. The rest is history, that is if you sadly include people reposting dumb jpegs in comment threads as part of our cultural Internet lexicon. Anyway, Kyle's a project manager for his dad's construction company now, but he still moonlights as Bad Luck Brian, making paid appearances and selling merchandise. It's a nice side gig if you can get it, and you happen to look like Michael Anthony Hall from The Breakfast Club, only nerdier, if that's even possible.

Laina Morris - Overly Attached Girlfriend

Laina Morris is one of the few meme characters who actually intended to become one. Well, sort of. According to Wikipedia, Morris' "Girlfriend" video sparked her Internet stardom. Granted, the video was part of a Justin Bieber contest, so like all things Bieber-related, it was predestined to melt the Internet to its core. The meme started almost immediately after, and to her credit, Morris ran with it, parlaying what should have by all rights been a flash in the pan into a wildly successful YouTube career. Yes, that's a thing. Telling Business Insider that she's able to fully support herself from it, Morris makes a living being weird online. Enjoy punching that clock on Monday morning.

Maggie Goldenberger - Ermahgerd

Like Overly Attached Girlfriend, Ermahgerd is basically one young woman's unfortunate facial expression, frozen in time and flung across the interwebs for the amusement and repurposing of the uncaring masses. Unlike Overly Attached Girlfriend, Maggie Goldenberger was actually just innocently messing around with friends, not putting herself on YouTube or trying to win a contest when she became Internet famous. In a Vanity Fair profile of "Ermahgerd," Goldenberger, who is now a nurse, admits she never hoped for or pursued Internet stardom but definitely had fun watching it from afar. That has to be the healthiest way to handle it should you ever find yourself accidentally becoming the butt of the Internet's joke, because no future employer wants to see "Went to Comic-Con as 'Dumb Face Girl' for a while" on your resume.

Zeddie Little - Ridiculously Photogenic Guy

While running in a 10K in his hometown in South Carolina, Zeddie Little unknowingly became the Internet's boyfriend and the inspiration behind many more "Ridiculously Photogenic" memes. According to Know Your Meme, he's a New York City resident "seeking a job in public relations," but we have a feeling a few modeling appearances came his way after the photo of him looking way better than anyone should at the end of that kind of race catapulted him into his 15 minutes of fame. There's not a lot of info about what he's doing now, but we feel confident saying he looks fantastic doing whatever it is.

Zoe Roth - Disaster Girl

The diabolical-looking kid oddly smirking in front of a full-on house fire is actually Zoe Roth, the daughter of photographer Dave Roth, who knew exactly what he was doing when he snapped the shot in 2004. Again, from Know Your Meme, Roth even entered the photo in a contest for JPG Magazine, which ultimately led to its wildfire-like spread across the web around 2008. Disaster Girl became primarily a Photoshop meme in which contributors placed Zoe's face in front of historic or publicly prominent tragedies. While the meme enjoyed brief popularity, Dave Roth also maintained a blog called Traveling Roths. He stopped updating it in 2014, probably because none of these photos looked like his children could telekinetically burst a house into flames, so it's amazing it lasted that long.

Giorgio A. Tsoukalos - Ancient Aliens

Though Giorgio A. Tsoukalos looks like a stoner who styles his hair in a wind tunnel, he actually may be exactly that because nothing about his degree in Sports Information Communication or professional background in promoting bodybuilding competitions would indicate he knows anything about space or the intelligent beings who may or may not live there. So now he goes on the History Channel, Nat. Geo, and others which have mostly become reality show mills and talks about how aliens are responsible for ancient civilizations. Of everyone who got unwittingly stuck with a meme, this is the guy who deserves his.

Jonathan Goldsmith - The Most Interesting Man In The World

Another meme to come from an actual thing, rather than a random photo posted to the web, is The Most Interesting Man In The World. It is obviously based on the hugely popular Dos Equis marketing campaign of the same name. The suave character, played by Jonathan Goldsmith, has now become one of the most ubiquitous images in the meme game, used to mock everything from sports to politics to religion. According to an NPR interview, Goldsmith went from being a garbageman to being a character actor for decades before finding a big break selling beer. He doesn't always get lucky, but when he does, he makes a fortune somehow convincing everyone some old guy is the coolest person to ever exist.