The word “meme” has recently itself become a meme. The word is more than a century old, but took root in the 1990s, but with the spread of Facebook and other social networking, it has become part of the culture itself.
It’s also been bastardized. Now, any YouTube video linked more than twice seems to call itself “viral;” short-term idiocy like “planking” gets the meme label, though it disappears as quickly as it arises.
You want to know a real meme, you want to know about Libby Serber.
If you are part of the North Texas theater community, or friends with anyone who is, chances are you have seen at least some reference to Libby. Her mother, Cara, is an actress in town, well-respected and even more well-liked.
About two weeks ago, Libby was just like and other 6-year-old kid. Now, she’s a cancer survivor and veteran of open-heart surgery. It all happened very quickly for Libby. Her parents Jeff and especially Cara were upfront about what was going on, and surprisingly frank and timely in their updates of Libby’s condition, which seemed, at time, to change hourly: Diagnosis, surgery, home, back to the hospital, more surgery, goofing with the other kids in the cancer ward. It was almost surreal what this beautiful little ginger-haired tyke was enduring. In not one picture, though, was she anything other than smiling.
It didn’t take long for the entire theater community to begin offering prayers and support. Soon, her photo (like the one above) was the profile picture of countless people — male, female, old and young, those who knew her and those who had only heard of her (Cara famously acted in a play, the camp musical Debbie Does Dallas, just a few weeks after Libby was born).
The word spread. Within the past few days, Libby has been profiled on NBC-5 and the Dallas Morning News. Everyone within six degrees of the Serbers know her as “our little rock star.” “Mom, I think I might be famous,” reported Cara on her Facebook page. If you want to experience the power of love, you just need to read the comments posted there.
Libby, of course, is not unique. Many kids — too many — endure such travails. But the sincerity with which the theater community (and now, the broader Metroplex, even nation) has rallied behind her is inspiring. Forget meme — Libby is part of the Zeitgeist, a child whose bravery has touched the better angels in many adults who perhaps don’t engage in the exchange of humanity as much as they should.
I’m rooting for you, Libby — everyone is.