The iconic "Disaster Girl" meme has joined the growing ranks of digital art being sold as non-fungible tokens (NFT).
Do you know the photo of the young girl looking back at the camera lens with a mischievous smile as a house is ablaze behind her? That's Disaster Girl, and her image just sold for $502,633.80 worth of Ether as an NFT via the auction site Foundation on April 18.
It appears the new proud owner of the Disaster Girl meme as an NFT is someone called Farzin, who goes by the name @3fmusic on Foundation's site.
Disaster Girl herself, called Zoe Roth, was just four years old when her dad snapped the famous image in 2005. After entering the photo in a photography contest, which Roth's dad won, the image quickly spread across the internet, and by 2008 it became a meme, explains the NFT's description on Foundation.
There are two points to unpack here: NFTs and memes. Those two words don't look real, but they mean a whole lot in our day and age.
What in the world are NFTs?
Firstly, NFTs. These are a form of digital certificate of authenticity for online art. They're made up of a string of unique characters linked to a blockchain, or a sort of digital ledger that can't be changed. This is a similar system to how cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin work. See it as a digital autograph of sorts, as neither the meme creator nor the buyer, in fact, owns the artwork.
NFTs are especially popular when it comes to digital art, which can't be held or printed. Lately, a number of famous online art have been sold as an NFT. Just take Twitter's CEO, Jack Dorsey, whose first-ever tweet sold for $2.9 million as an NFT, or the digital artist Beeple's online art collage that sold as an NFT for a whopping $69.3 million. Beeple's art was sold through a Christie's auction, no less.
So, as we see, NFTs are growing in popularity, and it's no surprise a digital image of such as the well-known internet star Disaster Girl would join the ranks of artwork sold as an NFT.
Memes, is that even a word?
Now for memes. Why are they so popular that they would sell at such high rates as NFTs?
In our day and age, you'd typically associate a meme with an amusing or interesting photo found on the internet as you scroll through online platforms like 9gag, ebaumsworld, and more. Rarely do you go a day without seeing a meme or saying the word meme, perhaps that's why it's made an appearance in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
Interestingly, the word dates back to the 1970s and was more in line with interesting "ideas that catch on and pass between people via culture," as the dictionary explains.
So even though your mind might jump to images of grumpy or nyan cats, Pepe the Frog, or indeed, Disaster Girl, memes were around way before the internet was capable of spreading funny photos.
We're just curious to see what'll sell next as an NFT.