In TEDx’s Kyiv edition, famed Hungarian meme star András Arató a.k.a. ‘Hide the Pain Harold‘ appeared, talking about his life, revealing how he became famous and how he now lives with it.
When he asked, quite rhetorically, if anyone in the audience knew who he was, everyone of course did. He had been successful in his professional life too, as he previously worked as a lighting engineer, even having been elected as vice president of the Hungarian lighting society.
But, eventually, the particularities of the internet brought him fame. A stock photographer discovered him on iWiW- a now defunct Hungarian social media site- after he put his holiday photos online. Out of curiosity and “a bit of vanity,” he agreed to a photoshoot. He only set three conditions for the context of his photos: they can never be used in religious, political, or sexual contexts. His success as a meme star came after people discovered that his smile was somewhat not heartfelt, but instead hid pain and frustration.
It is easy to imagine, that for someone his age -he is now 73 years old- suddenly becoming a worldwide meme star often associated with dubious, controversial content, was difficult to cope with in the beginning. At first he felt shame, having the impression that the whole world was laughing at him. Soon, however, after finding out that he went viral and he couldn’t do much about it, he eventually accepted his “new role on the stage of life.”
His identity became known after a user found him and tenaciously kept on asking to acknowledge publicly that he indeed is a real person. Following his “coming out,” the internet exploded, press outlets, just like other users, tried to contact him. Slowly but surely, he learned to live with the fame, which, he claims, has made his life more exciting and interesting, with many new opportunities and challenges.
He now tries to make the most of it: appearing recently as a radio dj, for example. “It is much more enjoyable to have fun with young people than to listen to the medical complaints of my contemporaries,” he argues. He concludes by finally “disclosing” the three rules on how to become famous. “But unfortunately, no one knows what they are. And neither do I.˝