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A Q&A with the Teen Who Took the Photo of ‘Alex from Target’

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech
Alex from Target

The original photo, back when it had only three faves. (Courtesy of Brooklyn Reiff)

By Monday morning this week, an otherwise normal kid who worked at Target discovered that he had become an unwitting Internet meme, amassing thousands of new Twitter followers and sparking coverage from every major media outlet (including Yahoo Tech). By Tuesday, a previously unknown company tried to piggyback on his viral-ness. As the week wore on, a slew of think pieces came out about fandom and modern fame.

The source of all this madness: a 15-year-old high-schooler named Brooklyn Reiff.

Brooklyn Reiff

Brooklyn Reiff. (Courtesy of Reiff)

Reiff is a junior at Prosper High School in Prosper, Texas. She’s on the softball team there, where she plays left field, sometimes center. When asked if she’s interested in any particular subject at school, she replied, “Not really.”

In other words, she’s a typical teen who just happens to be Patient Zero in a massive Internet meme that millions of people have read or heard about. I caught up with her in the car, as her mother was driving her to an orthodontist’s appointment.

So what do you think of this whole thing?
I think it’s crazy.

When did you first see that your photo had gone viral?
Before the Cowboys game [on Sunday]. I had seen it on a couple accounts and I was like, “Eh, no big deal.” And then after the Cowboys game, when I got back on my phone, it had blown up and my mentions were, like, full. Everybody was like, “Brooklyn took the photo!”

Are you at all bummed that you weren’t credited as the original poster of the photo?
No, it doesn’t really bother me, because it was just a friendly conversation between me and Alanna. So it doesn’t bother me that that account’s getting publicity, too.

Who’s Alanna?
She’s my friend.

Why’d you end up going to Target that day?
My dad and I went out to eat, and my mom texted us and she said that she needed a few things, and so me and my dad ran into Target.

Which Target was it?
The one off the tollway in El Dorado.

What’d you buy there?
We bought some laundry soap and a couple other things; I don’t remember.

Was Alex your cashier?
Yes, ma’am.

Were you like, “OMG, he’s cute” when you saw him?
No, Alanna had tweeted a few times about the cashier being attractive at Target, and she’d been subtweeting him. And she put his name on there, and she was like, “Somebody get his @ name!” So I took a picture of him and tweeted back to Alanna as a comment from her original tweet, and then that was the end of the conversation. A couple days later the photo had gone viral.

Twitter exchange about Alex from Target

Alanna had quite the foresight. What were you thinking when you decided to take the photo?
I was just doing it to tease her, basically!

I guess everyone’s got a Target crush at some point in their life. And speaking of crushes, how do you, as a teen, use Twitter? Do you follow cute Justin Bieber-like boys? Or whatever the cool teen equivalent of that is?
I just follow people I know. There’s been a few times where somebody’s followed me and I look at their photos and I’m like, “Oh he’s cute,” so I follow him back, but not really.

Has Alex figured out that you’re the first person to tweet the photo? Or does he not know who you are?
Um, I don’t really know.

Have you been back to that Target since?

But it’s your local Target, so eventually?
Yeah, probably.

Has this changed how you see the Internet?
Yeah, completely. This shows you how fast something can go viral. It’s, like, scary. It really is. Because if you say one wrong thing your life could be over, basically.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her.