Remember this picture? The name Zoë Roth may not ring a bell but the chances are terribly high that you have seen her picture at least once in your life while scrolling down Facebook.
You might have seen uncountable memes related to this picture template. This picture was taken in 2005 when Ms. Roth was 4 years old. Her family had gone to see a house on fire in their neighborhood in Mebane, North Carolina. Firefighters had intentionally set the blaze as a controlled fire, so it was a relaxed affair and the neighbors gathered to watch. It was then when this famous picture was taken; little did they know that that face was about to become a symbolic meme on social media.
The meme is a way through which types of ideas are spread via the Internet, often through social media platforms with a humorous connotation. This particular meme became symbolic of the idea when someone is involved in a disaster and watches the disaster from a distance while enjoying the scene. This image was used mostly to depict someone who has burned down her school and is smiling devilishly from a distance as the people do not know who the real culprit is.
This photo was first uploaded by Zoë’s father Dave Roth. He titled it “Firestarter” and uploaded it in an image hoisting service Zooomr on January 2nd, 2007. The picture did not receive much attention until Roth submitted the same image to a JPG magazine for an Emotion Capture competition and the image was selected for publication in 2008. Traveling through several websites and magazines the image in the form of a meme template made its way to the humorous alleys of Facebook and in no time the whole of social media, and became an iconic picture. This picture was associated with the Titanic sinking in the background and some even went to the extent of photoshopping this image the famous illustration of dinosaurs being wiped away by the meteor hit while 4 years old Roth smiles devilishly.
Now, after more than a decade of having her image endlessly repurposed as a vital part of meme canon, Roth has sold the original copy of her meme as a nonfungible token or NFT, for nearly $500,000.
The meme sold for 180 Ether, a form of cryptocurrency, at an auction on April 17 to a user identified as @3FMusic. As with any currency, the value of Ether fluctuates, but as of Thursday, 180 Ether was valued at more than $495,000. The Roths retained the copyright and will receive 10% of future sales. Roth has decided that she will use the revenue to pay off her student loans and also give some in charity.
This story is as wholesome as it can get. A father took her daughter’s picture against an unusual background and the child managed to give a spontaneous expression which made her face immortal on the internet and later helped her earn some money for that happy spontaneity.
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