China’s latest Internet sensation, The Washington Post reported, has been called the Vagrant Master and Master Shen on the Chinese Internet.
His real name is Shen Wei; he is 52 and a vagabond.
And now, as his social media star has risen, he has vanished. The Post said he's been offline for more than a week, after being spotted guided into a white Mercedes and declaring that he was going "to seek refuge."
The Post reported that his every word has been recorded by live-streamers, shared across social media in the form of 15-to-30-second videos and closely watched and analyzed by millions.
He wasn’t a fan of his fame.
“I hate the Internet,” Shen said. “The Internet has brought me nothing but trouble.”
Shen was found on social media by an audience a bit too shocked someone like him was capable of quoting Aristotle, Confucius and Dante.
He was homeless and appeared with uncombed hair, soiled clothes and unwashed beard.
He became an antihero to an audience attempting to climb social and economic ladders.
Touched by fame, Shen quickly rejected the spotlight.
“I know people are treating me like a monkey,” Shen said. “Nobody came to see me with a pure heart.”
China has almost 830 million Internet users, and more than 70 percent of them now use short-video or live-streaming applications.
By 2020, the short-video sector is expected to exceed $5 billion in market value.
So alas, for now, in the world’s second-largest economy, Shen will no longer contribute.