From Totally Lame to a Household Name


Alex from Target on Ellen

Tamanna, Writer

Alex from Target is his name, bagging groceries is his game. When a picture of a Target employee bagging groceries went viral, the Internet was flooded with questions which began with “Who is he?” and “What’s his name?” and quickly escalated to “Where does he live?” and “Will he marry me?”. By simply bagging groceries and having an appealing face, Alex from Target became an internet sensation. The picture was taken and uploaded on Twitter and only a week later he found himself on The Ellen Show. Alex from Target took his road to fame through social media and he isn’t the only one.

In the last decade alone, various forms of social media have launched legitimate careers all around the world. Simply from posting on websites and apps such as YouTube, Vine and Wattpad, individuals have achieved incredible amounts of success seemingly overnight. Social media now acts as a platform for aspiring talents to get recognition for their work and offers them opportunities that usually may not be available to those without connections.

With its easy access, YouTube has helped invalidate the consensus that in order to be successful or even noticed, one needs to know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone that is someone.The most famous story perhaps is of singer-songwriter Justin Bieber who got his start on YouTube where he posted videos of himself singing, back in 2007. Discovered by music executive and manager Scooter Braun, Bieber quickly found himself not only being mentored by entertainer Usher but also signed under L.A. Reid’s record company. Due to his explosive fame, Bieber rapidly gained a loyal fan base and today, according to The Richest he is said to have a net worth of over 200 million dollars.

Other than musicians, people in other pursuits have also received their fair share of fame through the Internet. Anna Todd, a twenty-five year old writer from Texas was a simple “directioner” with a soft spot for boy-band member Harry Styles when she decided to make a Wattpad account. Todd’s fanfiction, “After”, which was inspired and influenced by classics such as “Wuthering Heights” and “Pride and Prejudice”, began as a hobby with no intention of actually getting published. Barely finished with the first book, Todd noticed that her creation was really taking off.

As her fan fiction received an overwhelming amount of support, with over a billion reads online, it quickly became the Internet’s most talked about book. According to an article by Amy Odell in Cosmopolitan, Wattpad’s general manager Candice Faktor contacted Todd about wanting to take “After” to the next level. As a result, Wattpad quickly began acting as Todd’s agent. From pitching “After” to publishing houses in New York to presenting offers from agents, Wattpad helped Todd sign a three-book deal with Simon & Schuster who quickly bought the rights and gave her a six-figure advance.

As incredible as receiving a three-book deal is for an amateur writer, Todd’s success didn’t stop there. Not only did the Internet’s most talked about book attract attention from publishing houses, but it also lured in some production companies. Only last month, Paramount Pictures bought the rights to turn “After” into a movie.

If the power of the internet has ever been questioned, these cases certainly prove otherwise. Without social media, the careers of Todd and Bieber might still be wishful dreams and Alex from Target would still just be bagging groceries.