On the popular smart phone app, Yik Yak, ETSU students have frequently been yakking about transfer student, Jonathan Tyler Jones. What’s strange about this social media phenomenon is that most of the users don’t even know Tyler by his name…They know him as the famous, “Flag Guy.” This is because each day, Tyler proudly totes around a different full-sized flag to all of his classes and all over campus. When I spotted Tyler in his natural habitat, I had to bombard him with a few questions. It turns out, he doesn’t mind the bombardment. In fact, the flag’s purpose is just that.
So what’s with all the flags, Tyler? “Well, I’ve collected these from a very early age. These flags were like my baseball cards. I have so many of them…upwards of about 250 different flags, many of which people have never seen before. Since this is my first semester here at ETSU, I thought, ‘Well everyone has their own thing…Why not just bring a different flag to school every day and see what happens?’ It’s the ultimate conversation piece.”
The flag that Tyler was carrying on this day in particular was the Celtic Nations’ flag. “It’s an assortment of the six different national flags of the Celtic Nations throughout the British Isles.”
Tyler is double-majoring in both criminal justice and theatre & film. “I feel that law enforcement is a field that needs reform…It’s in the news frequently now. You see a lot of strife between communities and law enforcement and I feel that I could make a positive difference. I’d be a crime preventer rather than a crime fighter. Everyone kind of envisions themselves as Batman and I just think that’s not the right attitude for the job.”
As for theatre and film, Tyler expressed that he has always liked storytelling from an early age. “I’m sure a lot of people go into it because they want to be the next Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie, but I just think it would be fun. And whether it takes off or not, I’ve got that traditional degree to fall back on.”
Before I let Tyler head to class with his Celtic flag, I asked him one last question: Can you sum up your life in one short sentence? He responded: “I just think I’m cooler than I really am.”
It was a real pleasure getting to meet and learn the backstory behind “Flag Guy.”