Sunday, 26 Jun 2022

‘The worst person you know’: the man who unwittingly became a meme

‘The worst person you know’: the man who unwittingly became a meme


‘The worst person you know’: the man who unwittingly became a meme

Soon after the pandemic plunged Spain into confinement, Josep Maria Garcia received a panicked call from his brother-in-law.

"He told me not to worry, but that I should google the phrase 'the worst person you know'," said Garcia. "I put it in and there I was, everywhere. I scrolled down and it was my face, my face, my face. I thought what is going on?"

Paranoia washed over him as he scrambled to piece together what had happened. He had posed for the photo in 2014 as he accompanied his brother-in-law, a professional photographer, on a work trip to Barcelona. As his brother-in-law, who Garcia asked not to be named, prepared for a photo session with an American writer, he asked Garcia to stand in so that he could adjust for the light.

The photo of Garcia, then 34, turned out well - so well that the pair decided to upload it to the Getty Images catalogue.

Garcia vaguely recalled that in 2018 his brother had told him that the image had been used to illustrate an article for a US satirical magazine. At the time he had paid little heed; now as he sifted through the internet he realised he had unwittingly become a global meme. The picture had been used to illustrate a light-hearted piece about an obnoxious colleague who normally talks rubbish for once coming out with a killer observation about politics that no one can top.

"You wonder, okay, now what happens," he told the Guardian. "Will people show up here, wanting to get to know me? Or wanting to beat me up?"

He struggled to reconcile his online renown with his life in Molins de Rei, a municipality of 26,000 people near Barcelona. Online he was super-famous, - a quick search of the phrase 'worst person you know' pulls up almost two billion results - but the fact that it was in English meant that few in his hometown or in the marketing agency where he works knew anything about it.

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