An Edinburgh woman has told what it is like to unwittingly become a viral sensation.
In September 2018, an image of Lucia Gorman looking bored on a night out at a weekly event, called Milk, at Edinburgh’s Bourbon nightclub, went viral and was soon being shared on social media feeds around the globe.
The 19-year-old International Business student has told Cosmopolitan she initially found the tweet funny, but as it rapidly gained retweets throughout the day, she began to feel overwhelmed.
A year later, that first tweet sits at almost 16,000 likes and a Google image search of “Milk Edinburgh meme” throws up around 1.6 million results.
The picture initially gained attention for its “relatable” content, showing what appeared to be a bored girl being hit on by a boy in a nightclub.
READ MORE: Edinburgh nightclub photo of woman bored by male clubber goes viral
The Edinburgh teen says the boy in the photo was, in fact, her school friend Patrick trying to ask her a question.
But she added that the boredom was genuine saying: “I just wanted to go home.”
Since the picture exploded onto the internet the teenager, who is currently studying at the University of Strathclyde, says she receives hundreds of follow requests on Instagram every day.
And at university, she can often sense eyes on her in the library and overhears classmates whispering about her when she walks into tutorials.
Occasionally she hears a click of a phone camera as someone tries to catch evidence of spotting a wild meme in real life.
While some internet stars have posed for their own photo or uploaded their own video, Lucia had no idea hers was even being taken.
She initially questioned whether she could take legal ownership over the image, but learned that the photographer has full rights, and that he had sold the photo.
Therefore, because she does not own the rights to her image, Lucia has no say in what happens to it.
'It's my face, but I don't own it'
At present, any laws surrounding memes are defined by existing rules regarding images and privacy.
Lucia told Cosmopolitan magazine: “It’s my face, but I don’t own it.”
She added: “I know everyone says it, and I sound like a mum, but what goes online... you can’t really stop it.
“Even if I wanted to get those pictures back now, I never could. It’s not up to me, really. It’s just on Twitter – anyone could get hold of it.”
Lucia said that as soon as the attention starts to die down it picks up again, as the original image has been photoshopped to create other pictures.
One play on the original, where Patrick tells Lucia, “am not a weirdo ah actual play for Motherwell”, currently has in excess of 22,000 likes, while one comparing her coat to a hedgehog had 74,000 likes before it was deleted.