My Baby's Photobomb Photo Went Viral & It's Been a Pain in the Butt

Mom Moment 157

In 2008, when my second son was a baby, I took a seriously goofy photo of the two of us. I'd intended to try and get us both reflected in my bedroom mirror, but as soon as I got out the camera, he started lunging for the camera strap and I ended up with this ridiculous shot where half the photo is obscured by a blurry closeup of his intent little face.

I posted it on my blog as a joke -- look how many wonderful, flattering photos I have of me with my boys! -- and then I pretty much forgot about it.

Until I started seeing the incoming links. And then the comments:

"Now that is one ugly baby." "That arm tattoo tribal piece of shit is hideous. I’d maybe fuck her with the lights out if I didn’t know that thing was there." "This woman has an SLR and an external flash but didn’t bother to use a tripod? IMHO she should be beaten to death with sticks." ""

Ah. My silly, just-for-fun family photo had become an Internet meme.

The "meta photobomb" or "baby photobombs himself" picture, as it came to be called, has been all over the place. It's been published on Reddit, Buzzfeed, Funny or Die, Daily Picks, I Can Has Cheezburger? Laughing Squid, The Campus Essential, The Huffington Post, and, I don't know, about a million other places.

Behold, a slice of our presence on Google Images:

The worst was when it was on Reddit, because the comments just kind of went on and on. I was ugly, I was a MILF, my baby was ugly, my baby was cute, I was a dumb shit who didn't know how to use a camera, I was smart for at least bouncing the flash, blah blah blah. The main recurring theme of discussion was that the image showed my child going for my boob, because HAR HAR HAR BOOBIES.

More from The Stir: Your Facebook Friends Are Posting Ugly Pictures of You On Purpose

There's no use in getting all worked up over a stranger's comment on your photo, of course. And here's what I've learned about posting things on the Internet: once you lose control of it, it's gone forever. I'm not thrilled that my personal photo has been published without attribution on countless for-profit websites, but there's nothing I can do about it. I mean, I guess I could try and hunt down every site owner once it pops up somewhere new, but who's got the time for that? Meanwhile, it's permanently joined the throngs of other stolen images and is floating out there in the web-ether, generating revenue for who knows how many content aggregators.

It could be worse, for sure. It's a silly photo, not a humiliating one. But it's certainly given me new respect for websites like this one that I write for. The Stir insists on using images that are licensed for commercial use, paid for through photo agencies, or are images the author has been expressly granted permission to use by the photo owner. I won't lie, it makes finding photos a bit of a pain sometimes, but it's nice to know I'm not earning my paycheck by stealing from other people.

What's the takeaway from seeing one of your photos become a small-scale Internet meme? Not much, really, except to recognize that most of those easily-shared roundup posts of 50 Funny Cats Who Look Like Robert Pattinson or whatever are often capitalizing from someone's personal property. And that one frozen moment in time can lead a LOT of people to believe your son grew up to look like Bobby Hill.

(He didn't. Although he's still kind of a goofball.)

Have you ever had one of your photos get posted somewhere without your permission? What did you do about it?

Images via Linda Sharps, Google Images

piracy, privacy, photos


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Angie... AngieHayes

Your baby is not ugly, and niether are you. It is a very cute and fun picture. People are mean in real life, they are even meaner on the computer....

gridi... gridironsmom

Side note....your son has awesome dimples!

Laura Uppercaseg Allen

People are foul, anyone who can leave such horrid comments on an innocent picture such as this really are awful and petty human beings! Personally I think the picture is cute and funny, nothing wrong with it, people need to get lives... Good on you for taking it in your stride!

bills... billsfan1104

That is horrible. I remember seeing this picture and I thought it was the cutest picture. Those people are horrible to be saying things.

Madam... MadameGarlic

Someone did post a goofy looking college picture, but we were all looking goofy, and it didn't bother me. What has been done to you, though, is abusive and ridiculous. It is a lovely picture of a funny moment in real life...I think that these obnoxious guys don't realize that most of their opinions and judgments are useless and irrelevant to our lives as mothers.

Lovin... LovinJerseyMama

Definitely a cute baby and now a very handsome young man :) the Internet is an ugly place sometimes so good for you for rising above all those trolls. I think moms with tattoos are fabulous and not to mention your hair is done, and you don't look like you just rolled out of bed. Double kudos on something most of us can't accomplish before noon lol

Donna Plumley Brubach

Oh! I remember when I saw that, it was on epic fail I think, and I recognized you right away. People are dicks, I thought it was cute....and the other poster was right, your hair was done, and the baby and you were dressed, what more does anyone want, lol? We love you!

MamaD... MamaDV1012

Oh yeah there is no such thing as privacy on the internet.  It makes me really think about what I post and who has access to it.  My DH has made a huge rule of NO shirtless, naked or bath photos of the kids.  Just too many sickos.  I never would have thought about it.  Part of why I love him.  He completes me.  Together we make a perfect team.  I love your photo.  Anybody who has anything negative to say would NEVER say that kind of stuff to you personally.  Cowards.  I think the picture is cute.  The Bobby Hill comment did have me LOLing.  Bottom line people suck.  They can hide behind their computer screen and do some pretty shady and rude things. 

Jacobet Jacobet

Regardless of any comments you get I just wanted to say that today is my Monday and I was feeling down. I popped on today to read and saw this picture of you and your son and it actually gave me a good laugh and made my day. So thank you for that. Cute picture of a sweet baby and his loving mama.

Whipp... WhipperWhirl

People are a$$hats. You and your baby were and still are adorable.

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