Jameson Meyer, now 5-years-old and on the brink of starting kindergarten next month, was born with Pfeiffer syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes facial abnormalities. The rare disorder prevented his face and head from developing normally.
AliceAnn Meyer is Jameson’s mom and decided shortly after Jameson’s diagnosis to maintain a blog. The San Antonio, Texas family intended it to be an informative blog about Jameson to keep friends and other family members an insightful and up-to-date documentation of his condition.
“His name is Jameson. He is very real, and he was born with Pfeiffer syndrome.”
But at some point, a photo was stolen from her blog, Jameson’s Journey, and used to create a heartless meme, comparing her little boy to a pug.
It was discovered by a friend who pointed it out to Meyer. To say it was shocking, disturbing, and hurtful, would be an understatement. She realized it had been shared thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Meyer immediately became proactive in advocating for her son by seeking out as many of the callous memes she could and reporting them. She knew right away she was going to do everything to get these hurtful images taken down. On January 31, 2016, she wrote about her experience in one of her blog posts title “This Is My Son Jameson, and No, You May Not Use His Photo“:
“If you are going to laugh and share this meme, I think you should know exactly what it is you are sharing and laughing at,” Meyer wrote. “So, to everyone that ‘LOL’d’, shared, and posted that meme, let me start by introducing you to the child you find so funny. His name is Jameson. He is very real, and he was born with Pfeiffer syndrome.”
The story of Jameson and his mother swamped the internet.
Meyer was understandably upset but would have none of it. For every meme discovered and reported, there seemed to be a hundred more that would appear. The story of Jameson and his mother swamped the internet for a large part of 2016. But stories like this have a relatively short shelf life in our lives.
The courageous defending of a son by his mother is never “just another internet story.” So we asked Meyers for an interview, so she could update all of us on where things are at now, a year-and-a-half later.
“I still get messages from people who have come across it and send me the link.”
Meyer’s explained how she felt when first discovering the meme, “My initial reaction was that stomach dropping shock, disappointment, and hurt.”
“But there was also the reaction that I was going to do everything I could to get them taken down. And I think that’s still the same.” Meyer still gets messages from people who have come across her story.
“I am about 75 percent finished with a petition I’ve been working on to fight people that steal photos and post memes.”
“This is an important fight,” Meyer shared emphatically. “Too many children have their photo taken and turned into cruel memes.”
Although this practice is illegal and a complete violation of user agreements on some social media sites, it still happens. The burden of proof is almost always placed on the copyright owner.
“I’d really like to see this changed—especially when the photo is a minor, said Meyer. “I think a lot of people don’t realize that they, by default, are the copyright owners of every photo they have taken. Just because it is online does not make it free to use.”
“Internationally-known comedian Nathan Timmel actually wrote an article about his apology.”
We asked Myer if she had received any apologies.
“I have received a few apologies. A few months ago, internationally-known comedian Nathan Timmel actually wrote an article about his apology on Huffington Post – What I Learned When I Shared A Meme Without Thinking.”
Comedian Nathan Timmel wrote an apology for using the meme.
Is Jameson still bullied?
“We still encounter people that are scared of him or make comments about him,” Meyer said. “My hope as he starts kindergarten and through elementary school he will develop a crew of friends that will stand up with him and he won’t have to face a bully on his own.”
For anyone being bullied, fighting it is a journey. “We have talks about being kind, and about bullies more in general terms with him because of his age,” said Meyer.
“He is really shy in large settings, so he is very quiet at school,” Meyer said. “I talk to him about using his voice and encourage him to share his personality with his classmates—he really is a little jokester when he’s in his element.”
For now, Meyer’s mission for Jameson is to instill in him a sense of pride and ownership of his diagnosis. She explained, “As he gets older that foundation will be there when he’s confronted with a bully or when someone tries to make him uncomfortable.”
“We have connected with so many more families as a result of this.”
Meyer is still filling out copyright violations when she finds a link. If a friend or a stranger looking out just reports it, it will come back as not violating user policy.
The support and awareness Meyer has been able to create is admirable.
“We have connected with so many more families as a result of this,” said Meyer. “The awareness of Pfeiffer syndrome and facial differences is what we’ve been advocating for since Jameson was born. It’s somewhat of poetic justice that people who misused Jameson’s photo only helped us further spread awareness.”
“Teach them love, empathy, and kindness.”