Soon after the pandemic entered Spain into a state of lockdown, Josep Maria Garcia received a panicked call from his son-in-law.
“He told me not to worry, but to make the phrase ‘the worst person you know on Google,’” Garcia said. “I put it down and found it all over the place. I passed down and it was my face, my face, my face. I thought what’s going on?
Paranoia engulfed him as he struggled to figure out what had happened. He had posed for the photo in 2014 while accompanying his brother-in-law, a professional photographer, on a business trip to Barcelona. as his brother-in-lawAnd the Garcia, requesting anonymity, while preparing for a photo session with an American writer, asked Garcia to intervene so he could adjust to the light.
The photo of the 34-year-old García turned out so well that the couple decided to upload it to the Getty Images catalog.
Garcia vaguely remembers that his brother told him in 2018 that the photo had been used to illustrate an article for an American satirical magazine. He had paid little attention to her at that time; Now, while surfing the internet, he realizes that unknowingly the meme has become universal. The photo was used to illustrate a lukewarm essay about an obnoxious fellow who usually talks nonsense and comes up, for once, with a fatal remark about politics that no one can top.
“You’re like, OK, what’s going on now,” he told the Guardian. “Will people appear here who want to get to know me? Or do you want to hit me?”
He has struggled to balance his online reputation with living in Molins de Rei, a town of 26,000 people near Barcelona. He was so popular online – a quick search for the phrase “worst person you know” yielded nearly two billion results – but the fact that it meant so little in English in his hometown or the marketing agency he worked for, he knew nothing of it.
“I went to work and everything was normal, no one greeted me differently,” Garcia said.
His daily life rarely intersects with internet shame until a journalist provided clues on how to find him in a series of social media posts. Messages poured in from the English-speaking world, prompting his son-in-law to remove the photo.
But she’s already starting to identify Garcia online. He said, “I’ve read comments like ‘He has the face of a Nazi fanatic’ or ‘There’s no empathy in my appearance.’ He shrugged off the comments, adding with a laugh, ‘I have a lot of pictures with that look – that’s my view.'”
Among the few people in the world who have shared his experience with the Face of Watch out is Andras Aratu, a retired Hungarian engineer who came to the public in 2019 when he discovered his face was a universal meme, in his case Hide the Pain Harold.”
“It was a horrible experience at first,” said Arato, 73. TEDxKyiv said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Arato’s first response was to put an end to it all by restoring the archival photos he had been sitting on a year earlier. Once he calmed down, he decided to wait and see. “My only hope is that with so many new things happening on the Internet every day, people start to forget about me,” he said. “I must say I was completely wrong.”
Eureka’s moment came when he decided to get his photo back and launch his Facebook fan page with videos and stories from his travels. Offers of collaboration soon poured in, turning Arato into a celebrity in his own right; From a role in a Hungarian TV commercial to a segment in a Manchester City video.
After more than two years of stumbling over the ubiquitous meme, Garcia—who describes himself as conservative—has embraced his unique status. “It’s not easy. It’s amazing how many hits it gets.” “But it’s true that over time you see things differently.”
For years, he declined interview requests, opting instead to stay out of the spotlight. But in recent months, while he’s been considering releasing T-shirts with his meme on it, he’s opened up to a few media outlets. He told a newspaper that he had steadfastly refused to be photographed – “lest it would go viral again” – noting the scars that still linger.
He ignored suggestions that his meme might have been more difficult to accept than the others. Instead, he referred to a circular online discussion about whether the photo depicted him as the worst possible person, or if he was caught in sight of such a person.
Despite this, the enemy club slapped him in the face with the phrase “You don’t have a bad face” during a recent appearance on Spanish TV.
TV presenters comically questioned him about possibly the worst person they knew, asking what kind of commission he would charge if he provided face masks during the pandemic, or if he cleaned up after a party at a hotel. “Thank you for your sense of humour,” said one of the hosts from García who proved to be a charming guest.
He learned to rely on his sense of humor. “I think it’s very funny, it’s a good article. It doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t bother me anything,” he said. “But it surprises people. There are those who ask me, “Are you really okay with all this?”