Georgetown University student Allison DeRose is used to her face being on the internet. Her TikTok account, @ssa.allisonderose, has amassed over 90 thousand followers and 6 million likes. But the new and short-lived fame she experienced last week was very different.
On TikTok, DeRose posts point of view videos, or POVs (videos in which she creates and edits herself into imagined scenarios), and other content about the TV show Criminal Minds. Like many TikTok creators, DeRose has a second account where she can post whatever she wants or “shitpost,” as she puts it, to a smaller audience.
On this account, she recently posted a TikTok of herself using the app’s text-to-speech feature reading “i don’t think people understand that it actually physically fucking pains me that he’s a fictional character and i can never actually be with him or know what it’s like to be loved by him.” with Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license” playing in the background.
DeRose did not expect the video to do well when she posted it.
“It was like, two in the morning and I was like, ‘no one's gonna watch this.’ I only have a few thousand followers on my spam account,” she said.
But when she woke up the next morning, her TikTok was amassing more views than usual – it now has over 1.5 million. She was pleasantly surprised but didn’t think much of it.
“Occasionally things just get views for no reason,” DeRose said.
A few days later, the video surpassed TikTok fame by making its way to a new platform. Vincent Martella, the voice of Phineas from Phineas and Ferb, tweeted a screenshot of DeRose’s TikTok alongside a photo of Perry the Platypus, another character from the show. Then, DeRose said, “an hour later, I got a text from a friend of mine … she goes, ‘Dude, your face is all over my Twitter.’”
The tweet was the start of DeRose’s adventure as a Twitter meme template. Some people used it to make serious tweets about fictional character crushes they have, whereas others, like Martella and comedian Jaboukie Young-White, took the meme route.
As the meme continued to spread, DeRose went live on TikTok. Among the general excitement, her followers were chatting about how YouTuber and comedian Kurtis Conner had also tweeted her face. Even more shocking to DeRose was learning from a classmate that she had been posted on IGN’s Twitter. “A real corporation … using me as a meme format … that can't be right.”
DeRose's template had a short lifespan, which is typical of a Twitter meme. She said that if there's one thing she gained from the experience, it's a new plan for when people ask her for a fun fact about herself.
“Now I could be like ... I was a Twitter meme format,” DeRose said, laughing.