The Evolution of an Accidental Meme

Have you seen this picture, or a variation of the idea, around the internet? It’s been in many places, in many versions. Craig Froehle put together the original in PowerPoint, of all things.

Back in 2012, shortly after the US elections, I had crafted up a graphic to illustrate my point in an argument I was having with a conservative activist. I was trying to clarify why, to me (and, I generalized, to liberals), “equal opportunity” alone wasn’t a satisfactory goal and that we should somehow take into consideration equality of outcomes (i.e., fairness or equity). I thought the easiest example of this concept is kids of different heights trying to see over a fence. So, I grabbed a public photo of Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, a stock photo of a crate, clip art of a fence, and then spent a half-hour or so in Powerpoint concocting an image that I then posted on Google+.

In four short years, the idea has been redesigned, redrawn, re-captioned, and used for myriad purposes. It’s been appropriated, critiqued, and has even crossed international borders. Froehle posted a timeline of the many versions he’s seen and the changes that were made. Artist Angus Maguire drew the version at the top. Here’s Froehle’s original.

Here’s a version drawn by Mary at Off She Goes

And here’s one from the Saskatoon Health Region.

For the most part, Froehle is delighted with the spread of his idea, but he has plenty to say about it, with dozen of examples and updates, at Medium. -via Metafilter

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

This meme has started to bother me, although it also can serve as the focus of a good discussion.
The baseball game inside a stadium is supposed to have access limited to paying customers. The three kids on boxes are attempting to 'steal' admission to the game by looking over the fence! That's not right!
Perhaps some other desirable goal could be used. Some public spectacle that is not normally access-limited to paying viewers?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
What? Yes, of course I do. It's called selective advantage--survival of the fittest. And if I bought my child an advantage, who are you to put two standing blocks beneath the poor kid? Successful parents raise successful children. If that poor child deserves a boost, he should prove it via IQ score and school performance.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"The Evolution of an Accidental Meme"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More