Disaster Girl

Disaster Girl: The Meme Turned NFT

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Disaster Girl Image from Know Your Meme

Disaster Girl: The Meme Turned NFT

Created on block 12248132 and sold on block 12260503, the picture of the Disaster Girl meme turned into an NFT by the star of the image herself sold for an extremely large amount. This selling shows some of the extent of how far a meme can spread and how popular it can become even with  an origin that’s far more mundane than the uses of the meme across the internet that are seen today.

In 2005, Zoe, the star of the meme, had her picture taken by her dad, an amateur photographer. Seeing the devilish smile of Zoe with the backdrop of a fire (which in actuality was a live training drill done by the local fire department), he leapt at the opportunity to take the photo, giving it the title “Firestarter”, and sharing it a couple years later online in 2007. 

It didn’t take long for the meme to start gaining traction. Although it wasn’t the first place Zoe’s dad uploaded the image, he uploaded the image to JPG Magazine in late 2007 for a photo contest, where it quickly gained traction, spreading through the internet before taking off exponentially in popularity in 2008 when the image made its way to Buzzfeed. With memes not being nearly as present as they are today, it can easily be seen as a shock how quickly this meme spread. Nonetheless, it spread quickly, becoming popular as both a reaction meme (where creators place text on a meme) and as a template for Photoshopping (where meme creators replace the background with some other disaster).

38 Just as I planned mode of transport photo caption phenomenon
An Example of a Disaster Girl Reaction Meme (from Know Your Meme)

On April 15, 2021, Zoe put the meme up for auction on Foundation, a site used for buying and selling NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. By the 17th of that month, it had been sold for 180 Ethereum, around $500,000 at the time, to the user 3FMusic. Zoe said, as mentioned in an article from the BBC, that she would put part of the money she received from the sale towards paying off student loans and some to charity.

The meme still lives on to this day, solidified into the culture of the internet. Doing a search for “disaster girl memes” on Google Images turns up results from all corners of the internet, from more unknown sites such as refinery29.com, to more commonly known sites like Pinterest and Reddit, with many websites in between, showing that the meme remains popular to this day, 13 years after its original publication to the internet.. Now with an NFT in Ethereum, one of the most popular blockchains, of the popular image, it has been solidified into the internet for as long as someone, somewhere is running an Ethereum node, or as long as someone somewhere sees it floating on the internet, whichever is the longest.

Overall, the Disaster Girl meme was an example of a very early viral meme, sold on the blockchain for around half a million dollars as an NFT to both give money to the star of the meme, and to help cement it further into internet history. Starting as a photo taken by a dad of his daughter as an amateur photographer, the meme has gone on to show itself in every corner of the web for over the past decade, and surely for years more to come.

@disastergirl. 2021. “Disaster Girl.” Foundation, Apr 15, 2021. https://foundation.app/@DisasterGirl/~/25046

Dubs, Jamie. 2008. “Disaster Girl.” Know Your Meme, Dec 30, 2008. https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/disaster-girl

Zach. 2020. “Zoe Roth Explains What It Was Like Growing Up As “Disaster Girl” And How The Meme Impacted Her Over The Last 15 Years.” Know Your Meme, Dec 18, 2020. https://knowyourmeme.com/editorials/interviews/zoe-roth-explains-what-it-was-like-growing-up-as-disaster-girl-and-how-the-meme-impacted-her-over-the-last-15-years

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