An internet meme is something that can spread online like wildfire, and it often involves a photo that portrays some type of shared cultural idea. Memes are typically funny—but there are times when the meme is anything but funny.
Jenny Smith from Ranburne, Alabama knows all too well what happens when a meme is taken too far.
Someone alerted Smith that a photo of her son was being used as a meme.
Smith’s son, Grayson, was born with “22 birth anomalies.” Immediately after Grayson was born, doctors weren’t sure exactly what was wrong with him, and less than two weeks after he was discharged from the hospital, they weren’t confident he’d live much longer.
However, as Smith detailed on a Facebook page dedicated to Grayson, the little boy has proven everyone wrong.
One of the thousands of people who follow Grayson’s Story, the page that Smith uses to update family, friends, and strangers on Grayson’s life, alerted Smith about the photo of the little boy that was turned into a cruel meme.
Although the news was upsetting—according to CBS News she wanted to delete Grayson’s Facebook page—Smith told ABC News that she and her husband, Kendyl, tried to look at the incident in a positive light.
“My husband and I are trying to use it as a positive example,” Smith told ABC News. “No. 1, to let other families know that it can happen to them, and No. 2, try to educate people of children with special needs and that terminally ill children are not to be used for a gag or a laugh. This is someone’s child and personal photo and not to be made into a joke.”
The mother of four reached out to every site that posted the photo of her son.
Smith started contacting all of the sites that shared the meme using her son’s photo, and while many sites complied with her request, others refused to take the photo down.
“Some people think it’s funny, but I don’t find humor in hurting someone else for a laugh,” she told CBS News.
Smith wants to show that Grayson’s family will always have his back.
Take me out to the ball game!!! Grayson loved that song.
Although it might take a long time before every site takes down the cruel meme, or it might not ever happen, Smith is trying her very best.
“You have to stand up and fight for yourself and have love and care and respect for others, but I still want them to take it down, because it’s not right,” Smith told ABC News.
“One by one, it might take me a long time, but Grayson’s a fighter, so his father and I have to exemplify what he does for us.”