By Erin Gowenlock
On Sunday, something big happened. This country, no the world was forever changed. Alex from Target was discovered. Who is Alex from Target, you may ask. Well, first of all do you live under a rock because Alex from Target has taken the world by storm. Secondly, he is a sixteen old from Texas with looks that are reminiscent of the Biebs who works at the checkout counter at Target.
A young girl named, Abbie, posted the photo of him on Twitter and the hashtag #alexfromtarget quickly rose to popularity. Alex started with 144 followers and now he has 727,000. He quickly became the subject of news articles everywhere from the Times to the Washington Post to CNN. Internet memes were created and he was even flown to Los Angeles to be on “Ellen”.
Now if that isn’t the American dream, what is? This also started a trend of posting pictures of people at their jobs: Steven from Starbucks and Kieran from T-Mobile.
“There is a whole attempt at making sense of this now,” said Andrew Lih, a journalism professor at the American University School of Communication. “But I can’t find any. The Internet is more and more like your local high school where inexplicably the crowd picks something that is not that interesting and elevates it to popularity status.”
Then late Tuesday, a marketing start-up, Breakr, was claiming responsibility from Alex’s rise. In a post on Tuesday on LinkedIn, the company’s chief executive, Dil-Domine Jacobe Leonares, wrote: “We wanted to see how powerful the fan girl demographic was by taking an unknown good-looking kid and Target employee from Texas to overnight viral Internet sensation.” Then came all the articles about how Alex from Target was a marketing ploy, which compelled Target to issue a statement. “We value Alex as a team member and from the first moment we saw this photo beginning to circulate, we shared that the Target team was as surprised as anyone,” the company said. “That remains the truth today. Let us be completely clear, we had absolutely nothing to do with the creation, listing or distribution of the photo. And we have no affiliation whatsoever with the company that is taking credit for its results”. Alex and Abbie both denied Breakr’s claims, which caused Breakr to update their LinkedIn post saying that they weren’t part of it and basically just jumped on the opportunity to bring attention to their company.
This sixteen-year-old boy’s life was changed just by one picture posted to Twitter. He had no choice in the matter. It seems like an invasion of privacy but we live in a world where the lines are blurred. What’s okay and what’s not okay isn’t clearly defined.