Trolls came for rising star Xochitl Gomez. Then she took matters into her own hands, launching a viral campaign with a series of photos that went viral across the Internet.
“There are always going to be trolls,” says Gomez, 19, a rising singer, songwriter, and actress from San Antonio, Texas. But the Internet had finally brought her a target.
Gomez created a website, Xochitl.com, where she published a photo on March 10, 2014, of herself holding a severed head of Donald Trump. She took the image from a photo that appeared on Tumblr and drew attention to a viral image on the popular image-sharing site Imgur, which shows an image of a man with a machete hanging from his mouth and a caption that reads: “I can’t believe I’m standing here holding this.”
Gomez posted the Imgur image with a link to the Tumblr post. That same day, social media users began sharing the image with a link to the Xochitl.com site, and began discussing, sharing, and reposting the photo. Eventually, the photo climbed to the top of Google results for “Xochitl Gomez photos,” as well as many other search queries related to her.
Over time, more of Gomez’s photos were shared, and other photos of Gomez became increasingly popular on the Internet. And then Gomez, who was a rising pop singer and songwriter in Texas, discovered she was being shared as a meme.
“Then I saw all the different versions and their different comments,” she says. “And in a way, a lot of it was making fun of me. But it wasn’t really me at all, but it was just kind of funny.”
The Internet eventually recognized the images as being memes, or humorous images made up of other people’s photos. There are memes made up of images that feature cats or guns, or those that feature cats that look like cats. There are memes made up of photos of people who look like celebrities, like Katy Perry.
The Internet, and Gomez’s online fans, responded to her memes on a grassroots level. On her website, fans began writing to each other, thanking her for the “perfect gift” to the Internet.
“It was wonderful when they made