Friday, October 19, 2012

"Overly Attached Girlfriend" uses internet fame for good

Earlier this year, a young woman who had made a rather bizarre and intense Justin Bieber fan video for an online contest found herself the latest victim of accidental internet fame.

According to Know Your Meme, it started when a Reddit user reposted the fan video as “Overly Attached Girlfriend,” which went viral along with the original upload. Within a day, a screencap from the video (above) became a popular image for captioning and sharing. The meme continued to grow, quickly, generating a parody Twitter account and a Tumblr.

Often, this kind of "fame" ends up embarrassing the original subject, who becomes a target of anonymous bullying in the form of parody. But not this time.

When 20-year-old Laina Walker was "outed" as the person who created the video, she took the opportunity to promote herself, on Twitter and YouTube, as the "real" Overly Attached Girlfriend. Sge now has 126,630 followers on Twitter and 273,245 subscribers on YouTube.

But this kind of fame is fleeting. Online memes are like grass fires: they start unexpectedly, spread rapidly, and soon burn out. Ms. Walker first tried posting new videos in the same style as her original one, but they were pretty contrived.

Now, however, the woman behind the meme has decided to do something worthwhile with her accidental internet celebrity: she's using it to raise funds and support for a good cause:

Her idea to take "dares" online, and fulfill them when a fundraising goal is reached is quite smart. It's high-engagement, and is very sharable. I think Ms. Walker has found her calling.

Her first beneficiary, Surf Camp, is a charity that brings students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families on a two-day field trip. The (under-construction) site explains, "In addition to ocean surfing, the goal of the camp curriculum is to improve social social skills and sensory motor development important for student achievement and active engagement in learning." Fundraising is being done through So far, $15,877 has been raised towards their $50,000

Interesting how someone who could have been a target for bullies is trying to help people who are so often targeted for no other reason than their natural diferences. Good for her.

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