Ryan Birchfield, Photojournalist

Hashtags and memes have been trending on the internet for a while now. People become famous overnight because they post picture of themselves, and a million or so people like it and repost it. Recently, a young Target employee has risen to Internet fame, although he was completely unaware at the time. Alex Lee, a.k.a. #alexfromtarget, was shocked to discover that he was famous.


“I was getting tons of texts. They’re all saying, ‘This is crazy, you’re famous!’” said Alex in an interview. However, Alex is now noticing several negative effects of being famous.


Within days, he was getting death threats and had been called many vulgar names on Twitter and Facebook. This raises a very important question, one that isn’t asked often: what are the negative effects of becoming famous overnight?


Obviously, these threats could have a negative effect on people, potentially leading to such drastic measures as suicide or drug use. Alex is taking the stress and threats as well as he can. He said that he had been bullied before, and is trying to cope as well as he can. His family has spoken with John Shahidi, founder of Shots, a photo-sharing app, about the deluge of images that are on the Internet.


However, the situation only gets worse; the family’s personal information has leaked online, leading the family to resort to protection by the local police. It also doesn’t help that Alex can’t go outside for fear of being accosted by reporters and fangirls. Overall, the family is trying to cope with the situation as best they can.


When asked if he would like to be famous, Joseph Toledo (10) said that he wouldn’t want it, because “becoming famous on the Internet leads to a decrease in privacy.” As the situation with Alex Lee demonstrates, a loss of privacy is only one of the many effects being famous can have on a person.