Written by Alec Presley
Drury University had already had one student go viral this year when Lexie Vaught lost her shoe during a game. Considering how rare something going viral is, one would be forgiven for thinking it would be a while before another student made or did something that took off online. Fortunately, freshmen Alex Jones – quite accidentally – made sure that wasn’t the case.
Jones, a member of the theater and communication departments, was in Dr. Richard Maxson’s Communication Theory class. “It was a Monday, and I’m having trouble focusing. You know how Mondays are.”
Before class, Jones had seen a picture of the new chameleon his friend from high school had just bought. As Jones said, “it was a cute chameleon,” and it stuck in his head. As he’s in class and not necessarily being as studios as he could, he decides to doodle. “I was like. ‘what should I doodle?’” And of course, the lizard was what most prominent in his mind.
“I start with the eyes, because I knew the eyes. And then I tried to do the nose, and you can see that I tried to do the nose a bunch of different times.” The more Jones drew, the worse it looked. When it was done Jones had managed to crack himself up. “I can’t stop laughing. Dr. Maxson is up there teaching class, and I’m in the center of class, and I’m crying. And the two people in front of me turn around, the people to my side turn and look at me, but I just can’t stop.”
When Jones got himself together, he texted a friend of his in the class “Do you want to know what I was laughing so hard about?” The friend replied yes, so Jones passed the drawing to her, with the caption “I tried to draw a chameleon from memory” written on the paper. When she saw Jones’ handiwork she also broke down laughing.
After showing the paper off to a few friends, Jones tweeted out his drawing side by side with the real chameleon that inspired it. Over the course of the next 28 hours the tweet got approximately 30 retweets and 100 likes. Jones was starting to find the notifications annoying. “So I turn off notifications at four in the afternoon. And I go to the mall for four hours. After that I’m hanging out, and I open twitter, and it had like 8000 likes and 4000 retweets.” The initial reaction of Jones and his friends was a mix of shock, awe, and humor.
Jones thought for sure that after 10,000 retweets the picture would die down. As of Wednesday February 8, the picture has 91,000 retweets and 227,000 likes. It didn’t really occur to Jones how big he was getting until he stared receiving notifications from trend watchers. “It was like, you’re now trending in Miami. That was the first one. Then there was Houston, San Francisco, Dallas, Canada, that was the biggest one.”
Several articles have been written about Jones’ drawing, the two that stick out the most to him being Comedy Central’s UK equivalent and Buzzfeed. Jones now has more than 1000 followers. “It’s weird, because I’ll post a poll and get a couple hundred responses.” However, the part that Jones loves most about going viral is the “original content that people are making with my drawing. I love that.” People have been photoshopping the picture over people’s faces, like Donald Trump’s.
While Jones does like the attention he’s gotten over this, the important thing for him is that “something that made me laugh, also made lots of other people laugh.”