Ernest Wilkins, @ernestwilkins
10:37 AM CST, January 18, 2013
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a meme. To me, a meme was bigger than being president of the United States. It meant you stood for something.
So a couple of days ago, I come back into work after getting a coffee. Deadspin proceeds to kick that "blogs can't do quality journalism" BS in the teeth by exposing that Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman finalist Manti Te'o made up having a girlfriend that was dying of cancer. The story was beyond fascinating. I mean, it was like something out of a Season 5-era episode of "Law & Order: SVU."
You saw the hype surrounding Alabama QB AJ Mccarron's girlfriend and how everyone spent the next three days talking about how hot she was and how weird it was talking about how hot someone's girlfriend was. Now a player more popular than him was facing a weird situation like this? First off, how do you have an invisible girlfriend? Didn't they have any pictures together? Is this one of those weird "two sets of footprints in the sand" parable things come to life? As with most things on the internet these days, people immediately started cracking jokes. I was one of them. I had my co-worker Mick take a picture of me doing what I dubbed"Te'o-ing."
I can't say that I was the first person to think of doing it. That would be naive, right? The internet is so damn big and human behavior is so predictable. Walking over to my co-worker's cube, it occured to me that this would be a little chuckle I could spread via social media and that would be it. After Mick took the picture, I posted it on Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr and got back to work. Before I left, I saw I was getting a couple of "likes." Mission accomplished, right?
Little did I know.
The first text came at dinner. A friend from college I haven't spoken to in a while sent me a screencap. Her fiancee (who has never met me) was texted a picture.
I freaked out. Where the hell did this guy I had never met get my pic? Then the second text came. And the third. And the fourth. At one point I went on Instagram and searched the term "Teoing." Of the 20+ pictures that came up at the time, my face was 10 of them.
I had become a meme.
More of my friends started to see the picture pop up and quickly visited my Facebook to let me know. I got texts from people I haven't spoken to since high school. Laughing, I went to bed.
(Can I take a minute and pause to say that this is ridiculous. This is ridiculous, right? OK. Moving on.)
Thursday morning wasn't too exciting. That is, until I got a call. Someone called from NBC Chicago to interview me about the "phenomenon." I was confused, until I started looking around. I was on a lot of websites. We're not talking college football fan forums, we're talking ABC News, the Huffington Post and the Dallas Morning News. That hallowed hall of busty college sophomores COED Magazine made me the featured image they ran about Teoing on the front of the site.
It kept coming. So many texts, tweets, e-mails.
After some rudimentary math, we found out my picture has been liked over 800 times by people that aren't me or people who follow me on Instagram. A lady living in Hawaii threatened to kick my ass. At one point if you searched "teo" on Google, the absolute FIRST thing you saw was my face.
I couldn't stop laughing. This is insanity! My friends and co-workers laughed and then stopped pretending I was special. They are good friends and co-workers. It escalated to the point that my mom and like four more people texted me to tell me I was on the TMZ TV show ... kinda.
Now that the story is dying down, I'm not the hot shot I used to be. A meme is only as good as the interest in the story behind it. People are starting to get Te'o-ed out and so that means my reign as meme supreme (I rolled my eyes too, don't worry) comes to an end. Look, if I can impart any advice to any of you social media types out there from what I've learned in the last 48 hours of being a viral thing on the internet, it's this:
GO DO IT. DON'T THINK. DON'T HAVE A MEETING. DON'T CROWDSOURCE A THOUGHT BECAUSE YOU'RE SCARED. TRUST YOUR GUT AND GO DO IT.
The only reason this thing took off was because I immediately got up, had Mick shoot that photo and posted it immediately. That's the difference between the people who put out viral content regularly and the people who make the 39th "BLEEP _______ SAY" video that no one cares about. Just put it out.
Now? I got nothing. Anything I wanted was a phone call away. Free pens. Free beers. We go into the arcade bar? I got tokens like it was frigging Vegas or something bought by some guy trying to impress his girlfriend. I still didn't get laid, but didn't matter. It didn't mean anything.
When I was a meme, we'd go into the hottest club in the city, walk in, put our feet up and no one would say a thing. It was like Mardi Gras combined with the sexiest comic book convention you ever did see. Everybody had their screencaps. Everything was on my Facebook timeline.
And now it's all over. And that's the hardest part. Today everything is different; there's no action online ... have to wait around and look at Grantland like everyone else. Can't even get decent content--earlier today, I'm looking for a funny GIF, and I get that Mobile, Ala., leprechaun video. I'm an average nobody now ... get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.
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