Internet Nostalgia

Let’s Revisit Alex From Target

You can’t have one freaking second to yourself, even as a teenager.

Will Leitch
4 min readSep 17, 2021

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Welcome to part 28 of our Internet Nostalgia series, which looks back at phenomena that captured the internet’s imagination and attention for a fleeting moment and then vanished as everyone moved on to something else. This series looks back at those olden times and what they told us about the internet and ourselves. If you have a suggested topic, email me at williamfleitch@yahoo.com. Last week: Slender Man. This week: Alex from Target.

When: November 2014

The Story: I have to confess something to you: Until I started looking into possible topics for Internet Nostalgia this week, I had never heard of Alex From Target. It was a whole meme that was born, died and dissected before I ever got there. This is the future of the Internet for all of us: Being so old (I was 39 in November 2014, and had a five-month-old) that the Internet just moves too fast for us to notice. And then someday our kids explain everything to us like we are stupid idiots, which we are.

Anyway. Alex from Target. Apparently Alex Lee was a normal 16-year-old kid working at a Target in Frisco, Texas in 2014 when, one day, a Twitter user found a picture that a customer had taken of him a few days earlier. The user simply posted the picture, said “YOOOOOOOOOOO” and, sort of inexplicably, Alex from Target became the Internet’s star for that day.

Lee, according to a piece in The New York Times, missed all of this. He had shut off his phone for his shift and had no idea what was going on until that shift was over. Here’s the bit from the Times piece:

At 6:09 p.m., Alex walked out of Target, hopped into the front seat of his mother’s Mercedes and looked at his Twitter page, which had over 100,000 followers at that point. He tried to tell her what had happened, but he wasn’t sure himself. Alex then asked his new disciples, “Am I famous now?” This message has…

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Will Leitch

Author of six books, including “How Lucky” and "The Time Has Come." NYMag/MLB.. Founder, Deadspin. https://williamfleitch.substack.com