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In 2016, the life cycle of a viral meme barely lasts a week. That’s how long it took for the teen Twitter catchphrase “Damn, Daniel” to spin completely out of control—and actually put human lives in danger.
If you haven’t talked to a youth lately, “Damn, Daniel” is the brainchild of one Josh Holz, a California high schooler who posted a strangely addictive video of himself complimenting his friend Daniel Lana’s clothing. For whatever reason, it (and Lana’s white Vans) became Internet canon.
Holz and Lana were pleased to conquer post-millennial social media. Lana also saw his Twitter audience swell almost a hundredfold.
Then, last night, the phenomenon took a frightening turn. In what appeared to be a classic “swatting” prank, an anonymous 911 tip about a potential shooting led heavily armed law enforcement to Holz’s front door.
Per a local ABC affiliate:
Police responded around 1 a.m. Tuesday after they received reports that someone at a residence on Hamilton Drive had shot their mother with an AK-47.
“A person called Riverside Police Department dispatch center and used some kind of a voice modification device and reported that he had shot his mother,” Riverside police Lt. Kevin Townsend said.
The family cooperated with authorities, at which point police searched the home, cleared the scene and determined it was a false report.
Meanwhile, the meme continues to spread and mutate. A pair of “Damn Daniel White Vans Size 10” showed up on eBay and have so far garnered 83 bids—the leading offer is a whopping $300,700. (The Daily Dot also reached out to Vans’ PR team for comment about any possible correlated spike in sales, but we’ve yet to hear back.)
“Damn, Daniel” has, of course, also received the remix treatment.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'