At the end of 2017, we ranked “That blinking white guy GIF” as number seven on a list of the year’s worst things on the internet. As Sean O’Neal wrote about it, the GIF “summed up the empty, yet oddly smug nature of our sad state of modern communication” and became “the year’s least funny, most unnecessary commentary from people who feel compelled to offer it regardless.” In 2018, on the other hand, number 10 on our list of the internet’s best things was “Celebrities who use social media for good”—the most prominent online figures who Clayton Purdom described as “[shining] like a beacon in the darkness” of social media’s largely wretched existence.
We now find ourselves at the crossroads of the internet’s best and worst. Years after its inception, the Blinking White Guy himself—a video producer named Drew Scanlon—has reclaimed the meme forged in his image in order to use its powers for good.
Scanlon tweeted out the GIF in order to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, writing that he wanted to “ask you to consider a donation” if the GIF of him incredulously blinking “has ever brought you joy in the past.” (Even if it hasn’t, we think it’s worth donating.) He links to his fundraising page for Bike MS: Waves To Wine 2019, a campaign that saw participants bike “over 120 miles from San Francisco to wine country” this past weekend in order to “[help] fund multiple sclerosis research as well as programs and services that ensure people affected by MS can live their best lives.”
“I’m not usually one to toot my own meme horn, but in this case I’ll make an exception,” Scanlon writes on the page, adding that “two close friends of mine and members of their families suffer from MS.”
In an interview with NPR’s Melissa Block, Scanlon says that he doesn’t usually “post the meme because it...feels a little uncool,” like “the band wearing the band’s T-shirt,” but that he “figured if I could somehow find a way to leverage the popularity of the meme for a good cause, that’s something that I should try to do.”
It seems to be working so far. Scanlon’s raised $26,160.69 of a $30,000 personal goal and his team has generated $32,480.35 so far, which is an amount big enough to make up for years of internet wieners posting the Blinking White Guy GIF in response to anything they dislike.
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