“YOOOOOOOOOOO” read the tweet that imposed instant stardom upon a teen in the span of just one afternoon. On a normal Sunday, normal teenager Alex Lee was suddenly normal no more.
Prior to this unforgettable day, Lee was a run-of-the-mill adolescent from Frisco, Texas. Just like many of us, he went to soccer practice after school, stayed up late to finish homework, and had a part-time job at Target as a cashier. However, on Nov. 2, a British teen and customer at Target (whose Twitter username is @auscalum), tweeted a photo of Alex, since she thought he was cute. The photo, which was originally captioned “YOOOOOOOOOOO,” was quickly retweeted and recaptioned so many times under the hashtag “#AlexFromTarget” that it rose to fame as the top trend on Twitter and other social media platforms. Soon enough, Alex’s manager notified Alex of the revolution he had inadvertently started, and within a week Alex was being offered marketing deals, modeling contracts, an interview on “Good Morning America,” and an appearance on the Ellen
However, there have been many negative ramifications of this situation which have had a tremendous impact on Lee. First of all, Lee has had to consult with John Shahidi, the founder of Shots, a selfie-sharing app that is meant for teens, about how to handle the fame that has been forced upon him prematurely. Also, Lee has received a lot of hate, ranging from people calling him “unattractive” on Twitter to anonymous death threats against him and his family. In addition, Lee is now more doubtful about going out to public places, where people might recognize him and even harass him — they might even dare to invade his privacy, take a stalker photo of him, and post it. Even the smallest adjustments have negatively impacted Lee. For instance, instead of working the cash register now, he has been primarily assigned to working in the stockroom at Target for the sake of his privacy. This new isolated working environment makes the shift go by even slower than before. Personally, I feel that this whole situation has been blown out of proportion by the media, and many people have only worsened the situation with every retweet. Although some might get a good laugh (myself included) out of realizing that a random photo of an adolescent Target cashier can start a Twitter revolution, the entire scenario is not worthwhile of being magnified more than it already has been. Alex from Target’s story is like a bad joke; after a while, there’s no point in repeating the joke over and
Moreover, the “Alex from Target” revolution says something about the shallowness of our society. Take a closer look at the classic photo of Alex from Target, and you will notice that there is another cashier standing behind Alex. Why didn’t this man spark a social media revolution? What about all of the other cashiers in the world? Why didn’t these people become the new Twitter sensation? It’s because one teenage girl found Alex to be attractive, and she decided this opinion was worth sharing with the world. By doing so, she has not only done a disservice to society, by putting on display just how shallow all of us can be, but also changed the life of a teen who was perfectly comfortable with his life as it was – going to soccer practice, doing his homework, and working the cash register, not the stockroom, at Target.
Overall, the photo of Alex Lee that has exploded all over the Internet is labeled by only three words: Alex from Target. However, these three words do not tell all about what the photo really indicates. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a three-word label does not do justice to the shallowness and superficiality of society that the photo truly exhibits.
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