If you have ever had your iPhone stolen, you try to get over your anger, buy a new one and move on. Read on, because I am going to tell you how the guy who had his phone stolen became famous overnight in China. The power of viral messages on the Internet will amaze you.
It all started when….
Matt Stopera, who works at Buzz Feed, went to his normal after work drink spot to unwind about a year ago in East Village, New York. Unfortunately, his iPhone was stolen. Matt got over it and bought a new iPhone. However, he forgot to do one little administrative task, which was to have extraordinary consequences.
One day, something strange happened…
Months passed and Matt had almost forgotten the unpleasant incident. But, while looking for photos to put on Instagram a month ago, he suddenly noticed rather unusual and strange photos in his photo stream. There were a lot of photos of a guy standing in front of an orange tree! He had no idea who this guy was. How on earth did those photos get on his iPhone stream? There were also photos of shops, fireworks and buildings he did not recognize.
He decided to tweet a message about this as it was so strange:
“Um, I just looked at my phone’s photo stream and it’s full of pics of some guy and an orange tree I def didn’t take.”
He soon realized that these photos were taken somewhere in the Far East. Could it be that his iPhone, like so many others, had ended up in China?
As this was the time The Interview film had been released, maybe there was a North Korean gremlin in the works or could it be a sign?
Whatever the explanation, Matt was able to watch his new iPhone’s owner’s life as it unfolded. He was hooked.
Then, it suddenly dawned on him that he had not disabled his iCloud drive on the stolen phone. That was easily fixed, and he thought that was that, because his new orange tree friend would no longer be able to access the iCloud account. It was over and he had learned his lesson.
The story goes viral.
Matt was astonished to learn that the whole episode which had started with one little tweet about a banal incident had suddenly gone viral on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. The Chinese netizens were already on the job.
“ur story is very famous in China now, it has been reposted for more than 10,000 times on weibo(Chinese Twitter) in one hour.”
What was even more astonishing was that the Chinese social media crowd using Weibo were determined to find out who the man in front of the orange tree was and they would stop at nothing.
“wish u can find him:).ur story are sooo famous in China that all of my friends have known u and the orange tree guy,lol.”
The orange tree man was soon tracked down
“The guy is from Guangdong province, China, we Chinese are helping you look for him on the Internet lol.”
People were putting a romantic twist on the story which amused Matt no end. It seemed to be the perfect story to match the time of the year, The Spring Festival.
The orange tree guy is found!
Then messages started to appear on Matt’s Twitter account saying that the guy had been tracked down and he too was becoming famous.
“Hey bro! The orange tree brother was found!”
As proof, a photo of Matt’s stolen iPhone was posted. The number was slightly different but it was definitely his phone. It was the orange tree man’s nephew who had spotted all the orange trees. Then a guy from Weibo, called Justin, offered to help Matt get in touch with his new friend
“Hey Matt this is Justin from Weibo. We might have found orange guy in China. And now we are trying to contact with this guy.”
A happy ending?
The guy’s nephew was trying persuade his uncle to set up a Weibo account while Justin asked Matt to do the same. They would then be able to exchange messages, at last!
Matt’s first message was:
“Hello everyone! Thank you so much for helping me to find my phone and Bro Orange! This has been such a great journey and only possible because of all of you. It’s a dream of mine to visit China and hopefully get to see Bro Orange and see your country.”
There are thousands and thousands of messages on Matt’s thread and the story has really become viral in that 30 million people in China have read about it! Matt himself is on Weibo’s trending topics.
Apart from the fame, the best news of all, is that Bro Orange has now extended an invitation to Matt to come and visit him in China:
“Matt, you are welcome to come to our country and we welcome you to our guest house big Meizhou and enjoy our family out-of Hakka cuisine.”
Matt is now setting up his trip and is amazed at the generous offers from the Chinese citizens offering their services as guides and translators. It will be interesting to see how it all works out. Watch this space!
Featured photo credit: iPhone again/ Kenny Louie via flickr.com