Inside Out: Be original, be you

Who is ‘Alex from Targetʻ?


By Destinee Murray, features editor

With college slowly creeping up on me, I’ve had to start applying to colleges and for scholarships, and here is my philosophy about that: when applying, it’s important to stay true to who you are.

I know it sounds cliché, but it’s crucial to know who you are and not change yourself because you feel obligated to. Don’t be pressured into putting things unreal or exaggerated things in your application because it seems as if everyone else is doing it.

Hereʻs a good example of what I mean about following the crowd: the story of Alex Ernst.

Don’t know who Alex is?

You obviously haven’t been on social media for the past few weeks. Alex is a Target employee from Texas. And… yup, that’s all I know. That’s all anybody knows about him, yet he’s circulated through social media with hundreds of thousands of tweets and hashtags (#AlexFromTarget) on Twitter and Instagram.

All it took was one photo of him and a girl in England to make him famous before the night she posted it was over. How is that even possible? What makes him worthy of being retweeted and reposted all over the world? I really don’t know.

Seeing multiple posts of him generated lots of spin-offs, and, of course, he was memed. Again, why?

Social media has been known to make famous the oddest, strangest, weirdest things ever. But this, by far, has been the strangest thing I’ve seen become famous.

It gets me to thinking about what society has come to. We’ve become people who feel obligated to do things simply because we see everyone else doing it. Be honest, did you post it?

I asked a friend on Instagram why he posted Alex from Target on his account, and he said, “I don’t know. It’s just what everyone else is posting.” Seriously?

If everyone else were sniffing cocaine, burning weed, or stealing jewelry, would you do it, too? And, why?

People, especially teens and young adolescents, need to be able to sort through their beliefs and stand their moral ground when they are tested. This is especially true when it comes time to put your best foot forward, like when you’re applying to college or for a scholarship.

If you don’t see the point in what others are doing, then do your own thing. Don’t follow the crowd. If what you want falls in line with others, then that’s fine, but don’t do something simply because the guy next to you thinks it’s a great idea.

I know reposting Alex from Target isn’t that big of a deal, but it’s just one of the many examples of how just about anything anyone does can be easily repeated by thousands of others simply without any reason to.

After high school, you have to be your own person with a lot less guidance. Sometimes following others will lead you down the wrong path. You have your own mind. Embrace it.

When writing essays for applications or just for the classroom, I know how easy it is to just Google “great essays,” but remember: the best way to get noticed is to use your own voice and ideas. Don’t feed off others. Be original. Be you.