Memes have become as prevalent as the popular and over utilized “selfie” in the world of social media. They are usually created and used to poke fun or to just evoke laughter amongst audiences. However, meme creators should exercise caution when copying, editing, and photo-shopping images. So should those who naively share and spread these images throughout the World Wide Web. Situations such as the case of Leon Mitchell II (also known as Mr. Knoe) should send the message that memes can render unforeseen consequences.
Recently a meme went viral in which the words “Meth Curry” were displayed across a picture of Mr. Mitchell portrayed as a representation of the NBA basketball player, Stephen Curry. After he became aware of the meme, Mr. Mitchell courageously seized the opportunity to confront the social media bully or bullies who sought to make fun of his appearance. Through a post on Instagram, Mr. Mitchell set the record straight by addressing the story behind the infamous “Curry” meme.
He explained that he is a survivor of nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a type of cancer that affects the throat behind the nose. He described the treatment he endured in battling cancer as devastating and revealed that it caused major changes in his “neck, shoulders, nose, throat, and ability to function normally.”
He acknowledged his struggle in coming to terms with the effects of his experience in overcoming his struggle with cancer. He also encouraged social media users to be more sensitive to those who struggle with insecurities as a result of battles such as those who face cancer. He continued by announcing proudly that he has “overcome all of those things and become so much stronger then the after effects of cancer treatment, and proudly bare myself and ravaged appearance to the world with KNOE shame!”
He concluded, giving notice to the world that the man behind the meme is a “father, husband, survivor, mentor, community advocate, and positive motivational speaker.” Stories such as these highlight the need for greater respect, consideration, and empathy amongst the social media community. Men such as Mr. Mitchell call attention to the strength inherent in many with the courage to face personal attacks both on the body as well as within the world of social media.