An eight-year-old American boy attending an annual conference at one of China's largest Internet companies last week could be unlikely to be a regular observer.
This child was an Internet virus star of Gavin Thomas, who is known in China as a "fake smile." Photos of him smirking at the camera – first of all, as a toddler, then as a baby – looking to confuse or displaying his trademark, an awkward smile has been swimming on the Internet for years, becoming the main social media such as Twitter and Reddit.
But after the Chinese social media began creating their own memes from Instagram photos from Gavin a few years ago, his popularity grew rapidly.
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Coogie, 18 years old from Shanghai, has been following Gavina Instagram for years.
"After that, I noticed that many people from China, using video clips, used screenshots to create dummies or short clips," she said. "They were so clever and funny, and his dreams became very popular."
In China, many dreams are associated with everyday uncomfortable situations. Some fragmentary: "I just sat there calmly, observing that you are forged," "schools make me happy," and "one, weak and helpless."
Tencent, who recently invited Gavin to attend the annual conference, even launched the Gavin Face-Label Kit on the most widely used messaging application in China. I can also see the various bushes, posters and clothing available on Chinese e-commerce sites.
All this shows how easily recognizable the Western Meme has broken the language and culture barriers to appeal to users around the world in an exciting Internet environment.
"We discovered that Gavin's face is used for T-shirts, which are sold in China at the beginning of the year," said his chief, Byron Ashley, South China Morning Post.
"And this was the first indication to us that we had to start building a presence for him in China."
Gavin's first Weibo account was created in July and now has more than 1.8 million followers who are eagerly commenting on daily life updates, such as photos and live.
In the first trip to China from his family in Minnesota in August, the boy attended festivals and visited some of the country's main attractions.
"He loved Panda Chengde very much," said Ashley, who promised that Gavin would "soon be back".
The great success of the unclean, the internet celebrity Nick Mastodon, who for the first time began to put on the funniest videos about the two-year-old children's videos on the video platform Vine, helped greatly.
Now more and more Chinese fans are jumping onto his bandwagon.
"Because he is cute!" Said Lea, 20, from Chengdu, when asked why she is a big fan of Gavin. "Who could not wait for such a beautiful young boy?"
Leah, who does not want to use his real name, first learned about Gavin through Chinese melodies. She then started following him in Instagram and watching videos about him to understand his daily life.
"It's because he's so young but so ridiculous," Coogie agreed.
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