6 things you should know when your teen goes viral

Move over, Alex From Target. There’s a new teenage meme sensation taking over the Internet. And his name is Daniel.
Feb 22, 2016

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  • Move over, Alex From Target. There's a new teenage meme sensation taking over the Internet.

  • This teen's name is Daniel, and he's the main star of a video called "Damn Daniel."

  • In the 15-second Twitter video, a teenager named Josh celebrated his buddy Daniel, who was dressed to the nines in a pair of white Vans. The video received more than 180,000 retweets and in the process gave the world a new — and totally unnecessary — way to compliment their friends.

  • If this video looks at all familiar, it's because it kind of is. We've seen teenagers go viral for seemingly innocuous things in the past.

  • For example, a cashier at Target named Alex saw his life go upside down when a girl from Texas snapped a photo of the boy since she thought he was cute. Really resonating with the Teen Twitter audience, the post went viral, with Alex himself receiving more than 300,000 followers that very day.

  • Alex became such an overnight sensation that he was on CNN and even profiled by The New York Times.

  • But, as The Times reported, there was a dark side to Alex's fame. His normal teenage lifestyle was turned on its head when he went viral. Girls lined up at Target just to see him, while others sent him a flurry of text messages just to get his attention.

  • The fame got so bad that Alex could barely stomach the idea of going outside.

  • "I've been in the house the entire time," he told the Times during the week he went viral. "I'm kind of scared to go in public."

  • If we were to sit Alex From Target down with Daniel, what kind of conversation would they have? What lessons would Alex From Target teach the new viral sensation about handling viral media?

  • Here's a look at six lessons Alex From Target could teach Daniel about handling the media spotlight.

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  • You'll probably feel overwhelmed at first, but remember to keep being you

  • Alex really didn't expect to go viral for bagging some Target products. But he did. And his life was thrown a curveball, sending him into a level of fame he never anticipated, according to CNBC.

  • "It's definitely changed a lot," he said. "It's pretty overwhelming, actually."

  • Despite the new level of fame, Alex continued to be himself as best he could. In the Times' profile, he said he would continue waking up early for school and live his daily life untouched by fame.

  • "Alex is going to keep doing what he's always done: Get up for school at 7. Forget to take out the trash," the Times reported. "And work at Target at nights and on weekends (though he'll be in the stockroom for a while, he's been told). But at least now he'll be able to tell his millions of followers all about his run-of-the-mill teenage life."

  • Do something for good

  • In the Times' profile of Alex, the young teenager and his family agreed that they wanted to use the time in the spotlight for something good.

  • That's why in the days following the viral post, Alex's family reached out to John Shahidi, founder of a selfie-sharing app who works with Justin Bieber, to help teach Alex about handling fame, CNBC reported.

  • "There's really two things I've told Alex from Day One," Shahidi told CNBC. "We could make a lot of money, quick buck. Or, we can do something bigger, and let's use our power to do something positive."

  • Alex agreed with the idea, saying he'd like to take the lessons he learned from his experience — specifically about how he was bullied — to help other teens learn about online harassment. He also said he hopes to one day go to Asia and help children caught up in sex trafficking.

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  • Don't expect everything to be in your favor

  • Alex's time in the spotlight got him a lot of attention, but not all of it was positive. Alex received a harsh amount of criticism from members of the media, specifically about how he virtually did nothing to achieve his high level of fame.

  • Social media also took a toll on the young teen. Some users claimed he had been fired from his job, while others critiqued his appearance. The boy even received some death threats along the way.

  • "Alex is no stranger to some of this behavior. He told me he was bullied in elementary school and has learned to disregard 'the hate' — though, he said, it's increasingly difficult to ignore," the Times reported.

  • There's always something looking to take your place

  • It was roughly a year after Alex From Target went viral that a new Target worker made an impact on social media. According to New York Magazine, this new Target star was "Target Hendrix."

  • "He was last seen wearing a hard-to-pull-off combo of skinny cargo pants and Air Jordans," according to New York Magazine. "If found, he might be able to initiate your Target Rewards membership."

  • He surely didn't go as viral as Alex, but served as a reminder that there's always another person ready to take your spot.

  • … But fame isn't always fleeting

  • It's been more than a year since Alex From Target went viral, and yet the teen is still making waves across social media. Just this past December, Alex received attention for changing his hair color to a bright, turquoise blue. His photo showed up on his Snapchat and Twitter. That photo has since changed, as he's now sporting a dark black hairstyle.

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  • But he's done more than that. According to MTV, Alex has been making funny YouTube videos, and has even worked on the DigiTour SlayBells Fire social media music festival.

  • This continued work shows that Alex hasn't let his fame disappear, using it as a launch pad to bigger things instead.

  • You can move on

  • At the time he went viral, Alex From Target was harassed with reports that he had left his job. It wasn't true, though, until last February, when the former viral meme star told everyone that he left his part-time job to seek out better careers, MTV reported. He said he planned on going on tour, releasing merchandise, doing a major music video, making his own music and that he'd even be in his own movie.

  • "What happens after you become a viral Internet sensation? Do you go on slaving away at your part-time department day job? Heck no, you don't," according to MTV. "Alex is way too famous for that ish, so he's moved on to bigger and better things — and apparently working at Target isn't one of them."

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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

Website: https://twitter.com/HerbScribner

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