Main Character of the Week is a weekly column that tells you the most prominent “main character” online (good or bad). It runs on Fridays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.
The internet is a stage, and someone unwillingly stumbles onto it weekly. This makes them the “main character” online. Sometimes their story is heartwarming, like the pizza worker who had to make heart-shaped pizza for her ex and figured out how to get him back; usually it’s a gaffe. In any case, that main character energy flows through the news cycle and turbo-charges debate for several business days.
Here’s the Trending team’s main character of the week.
It’s the Best Buy guy, and this one’s overdue.
TikTok user Dallas (@dallas_ponzo), has become quite the social video auteur, producing distinct clips that riff on the popular “storytime” format (wherein someone traditionally talks into their phone about a funny thing that happened). He’ll film his Best Buy tech repair work. He’ll overlay captions expressing the inner coils of his mind while he’s in the flow state, slapping a new screen on an iPhone.
In 2022, we covered his storytime about a Karen customer. In April, about a couple that propositioned him while he was on the job. In June, his PSA about a Geek Squad policy changing went viral. In September, about an iPhone scam that he ID’d while a customer tried to pull a fast one. It’s gotten him more than 269,000 TikTok followers as a sort of everyman, hourly worker idol. He makes the Best Buy uniform (a blue polo) somehow fashionable.
And this week, a strange and incomplete video of his captivated our readers. It’s a story I almost spiked in the newsroom.
Basically, Dallas says he helped a mom with her iPad purchase. She had her daughter in-store, too. When the mom was distracted by another product and walked away, the daughter was left alone with Dallas.
Then this so-called “iPad daughter” approached Dallas and said, “Can I ask you a question?”
That’s it. The whole story.
Yet it garnered viral attention as viewers tried to fill in the blanks with speculation. Was the girl OK? Trying to ask him out? Was she in danger? Oh my God, was she being human-trafficked?
My guess is she was going to ask for his Insta because she recognized him from social media.
Per our internal traffic metrics, our stories tend to do well when they are either outrageous or relatable. I almost nixed the story because it was neither. This was not a PSA or a new fear unlocked or particularly urgent. The stakes seemed low. The facts were nebulous and second-hand.
I saw his face in my FYP and asked a reporter to look into the TikTok… sight unseen, in fact. Its pageviews came from my lack of respect for our editorial process.
Yet I should have seen the forest for the trees. Dallas had turned to a classic engagement trick that social media professionals have used for generations: A curiosity gap.
Couple Dallas’ charisma with a brand we remember fondly for cheap CD releases on New Music Tuesdays where the new Yellowcard record retailed for $7 and you have a sketch primed to pinball around the web.