The Internet has its moments. Sometimes it provides us with things as magnificent as Grumpy Cat and the "Why You Lyin'" meme, and it can also bring us together as a global community to support total strangers in need. It's such a great communication tool, but unfortunately, sometimes it's used for evil. At the moment, perhaps no one knows that dark side of the Internet better than Legends of Tomorrow star Wentworth Miller, who was on the receiving end of a degrading meme. But, like a superhero himself, he used his power of fame for good and fought against it.
Sure, the actor could have denounced the meme, told his fans not to post, and have his celebrity friends shun it, too. But what he ended up doing was so much better than any sort of immediate revenge. Instead, Miller took to his Facebook page to pen a letter regarding the awful meme and through his honesty, turned being bullied into something quite amazing. He proved that the pen really is mightier than the sword.
You can check out the meme below, which Wentworth posted with his letter. There is a person behind every cheap laugh that a nasty meme can generate. And yes, famous people have feelings, too.
Miller explained that the picture the meme presented of him in his "McDonald's" state — as opposed to his "Prison Break" state — was taken during, hands down, the worst time of his life:
In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.
He shared that not only was he depressed and suicidal, but that picture was born out of an unexpected paparazzi encounter, and that when it was published, this same sort of degradation happened and was perpetuated by a family friend. But he didn't stop the letter there. Through his story of triumph, he lit a path for others struggling to find a way out:
Long story short, I survived. So do those pictures. I'm glad. Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without. Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist. Anyway. Still. Despite.
The important thing here is how Miller owns his humanity when sometimes the Internet and that computer in front of our faces can remove it. He was initially upset by the meme — who wouldn't be when made the butt of a cruel joke — but he made something positive out of his pain. He flipped the meme on its head and used it as a tool to reach out to those who feel like his hopeless, red-shirted self from 2010. He wrote,
The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness. Of myself and others. If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They're waiting to hear from you. Much love. - W.M.
The Legends of Tomorrow star ended the letter by linking to a variety of mental health help websites, effectively crushing this villainous meme and saving the day. And, hopefully, a bunch of similarly down and out people. He's a hero in my book.
Here is a list of the links Miller provided: