The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Would you want to be ‘Alex from Target’?

The pros and cons of your picture going viral

Two weeks ago, being a cashier at Target was all that 16-year-old Alex Lee was. Now, he is being Googled more times than Justin Bieber.

Lee was thrust into the spotlight when a customer tweeted out a picture of him bagging her groceries. The picture was taken because of his looks and was tweeted on the customer’s Twitter account. From that moment on, Lee’s picture could be found on multiple social media sites.

He gained over 700,000 followers on Twitter overnight. But, becoming “Internet famous” has had its downfalls for Lee. According to an interview with the New York Times, Lee is “afraid to leave his house” because of the amounts of death threats both he and his family have received. Also, people have leaked his family’s personal information including their social security numbers and phone records.

After watching Alex Lee’s quick rise to fame and the aftermath, it triggers the question of whether or not you would want your photo or video to go viral. Having your face plastered on every social media site has advantages; it opens up many opportunities. For Lee, these included being a guest on Ellen and being offered numerous advertising deals.

This type of exposure could open many career and financial opportunities for young adults. But being in the public eye also gives individuals the idea that they are able to violate and bully both you and your family in ways that would otherwise be unacceptable. Some people have even gone as far as to send Lee death threats. These threats have become so regular that Lee’s parents have been in contact with the local police in order to assure the safety of their entire family.

It is undeniable that being famous sounds fun and exciting, but would you feel that way if you had no choice in the matter? Would you be willing to give up your privacy for your 15 minutes of fame? There is really no way to tell how someone would truly react in this situation until it is thrust upon them.

Whether you believe that you would revel in it or not, taking someone’s picture or video without their knowledge and posting it on your social media site is an invasion of privacy and you never know what will happen once you hit that ‘tweet’ or ‘post’ button. The young girl that posted Lee’s picture probably did not think that it would evolve into what it has.

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