Slacktory’s Brad O’Farrell wrote about Heidi Crowter, the girl whose picture was used in the “I can count to potato” meme, and whom the Sun recently irresponsibly publicized. I asked Josh Fonner, who gave several interviews this year about being used in two mean “fat” memes, to write some advice from one meme victim to another.
We post a lot of satire here, but the following is real. Josh wrote one open letter to comfort Heidi, then chastised her mother in another. His opinions are, of course, his own.
You don’t know me, but we have something in common. We’ve both been made fun of by a lot of mean people on the internet. I just wanted to write you a short letter to try to cheer you up. I understand you’re probably sad and upset about what you’ve seen in the past few days. Don’t let it get you down. I’ve had my pictures stolen and used in hurtful ways too, but the GREAT part of it is, none of these people have EVER made fun of me in real life. My advice to you Heidi, if this meme hurts you, live your life like you never found out about it. People will forget it ever happened. Just be the lovely, kind, gentle hearted person I’m sure you are, and everything will work itself out. Because “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Keep your chin up. This will all die down soon enough. It always does.
You don’t know me either, but I can assure you, I’m not going to be nearly as nice and gentle with you as I was with your daughter. Because I don’t know you, I can’t be sure if your actions have been born of stupidity and selfishness, or sheer ignorance, but it’s obvious you’re entirely clueless how this internet thing works. If you want something to disappear, DON’T BRING ATTENTION TO IT. Also, once something is on the internet, it’s out there. For life. It’s saved on a hard drive somewhere, and always will be.
I have but one question for you. I know I’ll probably never get an answer, but I have to pose it. Honestly, what did you expect would happen here? To expound, Did you honestly expect that speaking with The Sun (one of the most blatantly exploitative ”news” magazines in existence) would get millions of people who were making fun of people with mental handicaps to just stop because it was making someone cry? While I don’t condone the actions of the people who stole your daughter’s photo, I can’t believe that a grown adult could possibly be that naive. You talked about how distraught the knowledge of this meme made your daughter, and if I’m being 100% honest here, the person to blame for that is you. This is your daughter, your MENTALLY HANDICAPPED daughter. The burden of protection and responsibility is even heavier for you because of her condition. You could have waged your fruitless crusade without causing her the (undoubtedly high) level of trauma this has. But you chose not to. You chose to expose her to this, completely unnecessarily. Not only could she have lived her entire life without knowing this was happening, she could have gone her entire life without 99% of the population knowing she was even the subject of the meme in the first place. I don’t like to think the worst of people, but obviously your need for publicity overshadowed your mothering instinct and long term thinking in this situation, and that’s a shame. I wish your daughter all the best. She’s going to have a long road ahead of her now that she’s been exposed to this venom, and I don’t want to end this letter without reiterating that long road has been partially paved by your actions.
Josh Fonner (theronin23)
Photo via Josh Fonner on Reddit
You might also like Scumbag Steve’s letter to Annoying Facebook Girl. And if you live near Cocoa Beach, FL, you can catch Josh in a production of RENT this week.