Photo d’Adrian Smith sur son compte Twitter

When you find out you’ve been a meme for years


On Twitter, an Internet user has just told the story of his very recent discovery: he recently discovered that a photo of him, as a child, has been a meme for years and that he is a big “star” of the Internet.

Dr Adrian Smith is an American scientist, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, passionate about insects. He notably hosts the YouTube channel Antlab (24,000 subscribers) which studies, using video, the ability of elaterids (of the beetle family) to jump. A passionate scientist and recognized in his field, but whose existence had more or less gone unnoticed until this crazy story that only the Internet is able to shape.

His story can be read on Twitter in a thread that has already become cult:

Face to face with his meme

While scrolling through his Instagram feed, Adrian came face to face with a photo of himself when he was in 3rd grade, transformed into a meme.

By clicking on the account having shared it, he realized that he had become, in spite of himself, an icon used by a famous meme graphic designer, Teenage StepDad, who has been using his photo in his designs since 2017.

Adrian even inherited a nickname: Grayson.

Grayson is that archetype of the kid gifted at school, a bit geeky around the edges, and not very comfortable socially. He is one of the key characters of Teenage StepDad, a very active memer who today has more than 270,000 followers on Instagram, and 15,000 on Twitter.

Teenage StepDad even has a website where you can support his work through Patreon and order merchandise featuring Grayson, Adrian Smith’s meme.

On Twitter, the meme creator quipped the situation by retweeting Adrian Smith’s thread:

Reactions: some Internet users salute Adrian Smith’s gracious good-sportsmanship. Others blame Teenage Step Dad for taking advantage of his image and remind him that he should feel very happy not to be taken to court.

The Internet Never Forgets

But how did the photo of the 8-year-old Adrian end up on a T-shirt worn by a memer’s fans who are completely unaware of his existence? We have to look back at 2008:  Adrian wanted to contribute to a Tumblr (a blog) called We Have Lasers !!!!!!!! whose goal was to bring together portraits of people with laser lights in the background, a style quite popular with photographers in American high schools in the 80s and 90s.

The tumblr has since been deactivated, but we found an article in Time magazine which spoke of this blog in 2011 with some precious photos. Since that day, his photo has circulated on the Internet.


This is not the first time that a man turned meme has testified. The name of András Arató probably means nothing to you, but this 73-year-old Hungarian engineer, retired, also has one of the most famous faces on the Internet.

After participating in a banal photo shoot for an image bank, his portrait was used as an illustration for websites and other rather serious creations (his photo is even still used in this context – it was recently seen in France for an ad behind the Carrefour delivery trucks.)

But his pinched smile which hides, according to Internet users, a certain sadness, made him become Hide The Pain Harold, one of the most shared meme models of recent years. His image is often used to illustrate situations where you have to do things reluctantly or hide your emotions.

For him, too, there were two choices: sue websites that shared his image and lock himself in fear and frustration, or come out in the open and try to profit (and laugh) from this situation.

He chose the second option by explaining himself in a Ted Talk in which he tells how he lost control of his own image, a must-see that has already accumulated more than 6 million views on YouTube.

Since then, András has taken on the phenomenon and is paid to take trips around the world to show his smirk (he was even invited by a football website in England to shoot a promotional video for the Manchester City club).

András and Adrian’s sense of self-mockery should inspire us all 😏


- Adrian Smith's interview at Slate
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *