How a Hashtag Brought a Frisco Teen Virtual Worldwide Fame

What does #AlexFromTarget say about us?

Alex from Target on the Ellen show. He is kind of dreamy, isn't he?
Alex from Target on the Ellen show. He is kind of dreamy, isn’t he?

If you spend any reasonable amount of time online, you likely encountered mention on Monday of the #AlexFromTarget hashtag — which was tied to a photo of a teenage boy at work as a checker at Target — having gone ridiculously viral. It was chalked up to being one of the great mysteries of the Internet age. A picture of a handsome but otherwise unremarkable-looking young man in the midst of the most mundane of activities somehow got passed from user after user after user on Twitter — and no one could say for sure why.

On Tuesday the CEO of a social media marketing/branding/something startup in Los Angeles gave an interview to CNET in which he took credit for having spawned the hashtag that launched a million tweets by using his network of “social influencers.” But the girl in the UK responsible for the original tweet, Target, and Alex himself all say they’ve got nothing to do with the company, as Buzzfeed reports. So this will likely remain one of the great inscrutable unknowns of this new world in which we live.

#AlexFromTarget is actually Alex LeBeouf Lee from Frisco. His viral fame landed him Tuesday on TV with Ellen DeGeneres. So what’s the proper reaction to all this? To decry the state of self-obsessed Western civilization, to surmise that only in an decadent society like ours can a person rise to prominence for no good reason whatsoever, and thus this should serve as a warning sign that our once-solid foundations have been reduced to mush, a state of affairs inevitably leading to collapse?

Or do we take comfort in the idea that seemingly at any time any one of us, for any reason, can rocket to fame (however fleeting), that we live in a glorious age in which the common man has a remarkable opportunity to gain recognition purely for his common-ness?

Maybe that’s making too much out of all this.

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