God Help Us, People Are Actually Thirsting After Mark Zuckerberg

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty

In the year of our lord 2024, the scourge of AI has become inescapable, even in pop culture. There’s a robo-character named “Max” catfishing on The Circle, A24 is using the tech to make movie posters, and these days we can’t even tell if a Drake diss track is real. Now, AI has given us an even bigger challenge to overcome.

Soon after Mark Zuckerberg posted a video announcing updates to Meta’s AI assistant, a doctored image of him (perhaps also altered by AI?) went viral. From there, it was absolute chaos as X users took it all in—from the cool-guy vibes to the scruff to the empathetic smile. And then, the unthinkable happened: people began thirsting after Mark Goddamn Zuckerberg.

Anyone who has spent even five seconds looking at the real Mark Zuckerberg should be able to tell that Hot Zuck—the Stefan Urquelle to Regular Zuck’s Steve Urkel—has had a little Facetune-style work done to him in that photo. His jaw is thicker, his forehead has had a little digital botox, and the edit has also capped his teeth with some nice, white veneers. Most importantly, you can actually see the light of life in his eyes. The only real bit of drip in this photo is the chain, which is, unfortunately, 100 percent real.

Although Zaddy Zuckerberg seems to have come out of nowhere, we did get at least a little foreshadowing earlier this week, when a behind-the-scenes Meta video captured him joking around in an oversized white T-shirt. He was even laughing like a real human being with a soul, which might be what prompted tech CEO Raad Mobrem to caption his viral X post, “Once again, whoever is running comms for Zuckerberg and Meta deserves a massive raise.”

A day later, journalist and critic Malcolm Harris swooped in with the raw truth: “Mark Zuckerberg started wearing an oversized white tee and people are like ‘idk I like him now.’”

Usually, when images of Zuckerberg go viral, it’s not exactly in a way that most of us would appreciate.

For instance, in 2018—back when Zuckerberg was on a mea culpa tour with reporters and Congress over Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal—his ass was all over the internet. First, people made fun of the booster cushion he was sitting on, and then, they came for his actual caboose. Suddenly, the internet was awash in photoshopped images of Zuckerberg with a big, juicy Zuckerbooty.

In 2020, while all of us were stuck inside and losing our minds to boredom, the internet came for Zuckerberg’s ass again—this time, thanks to a (real) viral photo of him surfing with what appears to be a full bottle of Zinc oxide slathered across his face. In fairness, skin cancer is no joke, and we should all probably walk around under a thick layer of sunscreen. Then again, for all the people who couldn’t stop staring at his caked-up face, just as many couldn’t refrain from pointing out that he seemed to be caked up in a very different way.

And now, here we all are. The internet seems to be starkly divided on whether or not this yassified Zuckerberg is actually that attractive. (Is he hot, or does he just look like Chet Hanks?) At the same time, that almost feels beside the point.

Zuckerberg’s appearance as meme fodder partially stems from his position as one of the most powerful people in the world—someone who controls a platform that reaches 2.7 billion people and has an outsized influence on our democracy. If I may put on my psychoanalyst cap for just a second, I’d wager that these constant viral moments stem from our collective acknowledgment of just how ridiculous that is when you consider that he also seems, by all accounts, like an absolute dweeb.

For now, however, it seems we’ll all just have to tolerate the absolute weirdos who are thirsting after Zuckerberg in our feeds. To quote Succession’s Logan Roy—and perhaps the most relatable meme I’ve seen on this subject so far—these are simply not serious people. From now on, it’ll just have to be between them and their gods.

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