I'm cautiously excited to write this, catching a potential internet sensation (not quite a meme) at the start.
Here is a picture called "New trend in Portland" telling you to "share if you think this is nuts". It appeared on my Facebook feed this morning after a friend shared it from a page called Power 104.3, who posted it on 11th Jan 2014. It's been shared 62,205 times at the time I'm writing this.
But there's surprisingly little else on the internet for it. Surprising for a "trend", right?
Here is a video by star999radio on Youtube, called "The New Trend In Portland". It features a presenter filming reactions of his office colleagues as he shows them the picture above. This was apparently shared "1 day ago" (very specific, Youtube). On the video page it has 1,597 views, but the search results show just 131 views, which suggests this is being viewed rapidly at the moment. If you search "new trend in portland", it is the only video on the subject. (Update: The video page now shows 1,708 views since I started writing this post.)
However. Here is one of the original images which "new trend OMG" takes from. It was shared in this discussion on Snopes (awesome hoax/myth busting website) back in February 2010, and also in this discussion on website BritishSnoring.co.uk. So the image itself isn't new.
But, the more tell-tale signs are nothing to do with the images. They are the words "Portland" and "new trend".
Portland is well-known for its alternative cultures and lifestyles, having more in common with (glorious Australian city) Melbourne than with the rest of the States. These stereotypes are so established, US comedians Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen lovingly mock them in the sketch show Portlandia.
So, Portland is an easy target for ridiculing things you don't like, don't understand, find "gross", or think are slightly hippy.
"New trend in X" is designed to both scare and excite people. A new trend? Where? What if it comes to my town? Is this what the cool kids are doing these days? OMG so disgusting! *clicks share*
Combining the two, gives you the perfect mix of 1) gross-out and 2) mocking stereotypes of people you don't like (hipsters, metallers, the young and the weird) to send it round the internet and back.
The truth is, there is no evidence to suggest this is a new trend rather than 2 individuals, or that they even live in Portland.
Both the video above and this website (14th Jan) label it the "front porch" piercing. But I wonder if that's something to do with the earliest mention I can find on this discussion site (16th November 2013) in a board coincidentally titled "The Front Porch" - a board designed for random chat, and coincidentally the most popular discussion board, and the first one you see on the website's home page.
It's worth noting the piercings shown are clear glass/perspex stretchers, not an open hole, which many people think (see comments on Power 104.3's post such as "how do they eat??!1") thanks to poor quality JPGs.
This is all assuming the photos are genuine, and haven't been photoshopped somehow, or they're not just awesome badges to wear under your bottom lip.
Edit: a friend has just pointed out that labret stretchings are common - see these image search results - but usually with coloured plugs. Therefore these images might easily just be people swapping their plug for a ring, just for the camera, or for laughs.
You might think that I'm just helping this (potential) internet sensation by writing a blog post about it. Maybe, maybe not. People who've read this are less likely to click share, knowing that it's not a trend and it's not in Portland.
And naturally, one reason I wrote this was an opportunity to get some blog views. If it gets big and people are searching for it, maybe they'll come here to my crappy little blog, right?
The internet is a big ol' place and so fast-moving that even if this does get seen by everyone and their mum, no-one will remember it next week anyway.
Or maybe they will? Because the real irony is this: if it wasn't a trend already, it will be after this.