U.S. Markets closed

Who Is ‘Alex from Target,’ and Why Should I Even Begin to Care?

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech

Update: ‘Alex from Target’ Might Be a Marketing Campaign

Today in inexplicable Internet memes, an otherwise normal Target employee has quickly become an online celebrity, stealing the hearts of his newly acquired hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, and inspiring an entire new genre of parody Twitter accounts.

Below, an investigation into how Alex from Target got so incredibly popular, and whether or not you should devote any resources to caring.

Wait, who is Alex?
Practically speaking, Alex is a young, relatively hunky Target employee who was photographed by Twitter user @auscalum on Nov. 2 at 12:05 p.m.

Tweet from @auscalum

(Twitter)

Figuratively speaking, Alex is everyone and no one. Alex is an untouchable ideal of the American chain store worker. Alex is our hopes and ambitions crushed into tiny pieces. Alex is our daydreams and our nightmares.

Um, OK. But how did he become so famous?
Short answer: Because … the Internet?

Long answer: After his photo went up on Twitter on Sunday, it immediately caught the eye of a herd of admirers, who retweeted his image nearly 1,700 times and faved it nearly 2,800 times as of Monday morning. The hashtag #AlexFromTarget eventually began trending on Twitter.

After people began seeking out information about the fabled Alex himself, his Twitter account — @acl163 — gained about 250,000 followers, and he began posting photos of himself with (presumably stoked) fans.

(Twitter)

But, like, HOW?
It’s been our experience online that tween Twitter users have a way of banding together and making something trend — especially when it involves a good-looking young man or men. (See Twitter brawls involving Justin Bieber and/or One Direction). 

This, of course, is a special case. Alex is neither famous nor — as far as we can tell — extraordinarily talented. But he is relatable. Our guess is that the handsome cashier at your local Starbucks/Michaels/Dunkin’ Donuts/Jamba Juice is a topic of conversation that comes up quite often, especially in small local communities. In July there was a similar story — albeit a more local one — about a “Hot Cop” who patrols San Francisco’s Castro district, and has earned the attention of the neighborhood.

In other words, this story has everything you need to go viral: a hot protagonist who works at a well-known chain who is normal enough to be relatable. It almost sounds like a marketing campaign planted by some genius at Target. And if it isn’t, there’ll probably be something similar that happens in the future. Especially considering that Target’s been clued in on the trend.

Tweet from Target

(Twitter)

Why should I care?
Well, you don’t have to. But it’s kind of a funny story. Plus it’s turned into a way to appreciate all wonderful/good looking cashiers in our neighborhoods. Like … 

Frankie from Starbucks:

Starbucks employee

Betty from Walmart:

Walmart employee

(Twitter)

Kieran from T-Mobile:

T-Mobile employee

(Twitter)


And, last but certainly not least, tBO from TheGroovySmoothie:

TheGroovySmoothie employee

(Twitter

What’s next for Alex?
Well, he’s only recently discovered that he’s famous, so he’s slowly understanding his power. Chances are Vine will give him his own Target-sponsored video series. Or he’ll be on Dancing with the Stars next season. Maybe an album with William Hung? At the very least, let’s hope Target gives him a raise.

This is all super weird.
Yes, it is! But so is everything on the Internet. This is how celebrities are born now. You, Internet Person from Wherever, could be next.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her.