Mysterious 'Sweeping Old Lady' becomes most popular cyber figure

14:49, January 11, 2011      

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Editor's note: She has a low profile. She is modest. She has great wisdom but is willing to do the lowly work of a cleaning lady. She is a just a person easily overlooked wandering among professional people, but she always gives the most valuable suggestions. She is a legend. She is the "Sweeping Old Lady" and the first cyber figure to be catapulted to fame on China's Internet in 2011.


Image by Tang Chuncheng.

On Jan. 3, a netizen nicknamed "Programmer Humor," published a short story on his microblog. It said there is an old lady who sweeps nearly inch of his Internet company. When she passes by a programmer, she takes a look at the codes on the programmer's computer and kindly reminds him: "Beware, the stack is overfilled!"

Certainly, it is a casual and fictitious story made up by the microblogger. However, no one would have guessed that the short blog would eventually trigger the first great Internet meme of 2011 in China. Suddenly, the mysterious "Sweeping Old Lady" is showing up nearly everywhere and reminding professionals of their mistakes. As of 8 a.m. on Jan. 5, some netizens collected stories of the "Sweeping Old Lady" and found she had appeared to give advice in 150 kinds of careers. Some netizen even said he had encountered a similar situation in real life.

Everybody wishes to have such a "Sweeping Old Lady" nearby

Actually, the "Sweeping Old Lady" is not a brand new figure, but was based on the "sweeping monk" in Louis Cha's famous Kung fu novel of "Tian Long Ba Bu." The "sweeping monk" is an old monk and does the lowest class of work in Shaolin Temple, but he is actually the No.1 master in the novel both in Kung fu and in the study of Buddhism.

The "Sweeping Old Lady" is also a modest great master. Lots of netizens wish that they could have such a lady beside them to give them precious suggestions at a key time.

Although there may be 1,000 "Sweeping Old Ladies" in 1,000 people's minds, it cannot prevent the "Sweeping Old Lady" from becoming the most popular figure on Internet.

"Programmer Humor" said he is just a programmer in the real world and once he saw the story about the "Sweeping Old Lady," so he wrote it down in his micro-blog because it is funny. He never knew who the original writer of the story was and never thought the story could be so popular.

Expert: More positive than "Jia Junpeng"

Although the "Sweeping Old Lady" and "Jia Junpeng" are both cyber figures and they won their fame overnight, an expert says the "old lady" has much positive significance than "Jia."

Gao Yan, anassociate professor of sociology at Hehai University, said netizens were chasing "Jia Junpeng" just for fun, while the popularity of "Sweeping Old Lady" seemed to show appreciation for those people who have devotion to their work.

"The 'Sweeping Old Lady' indicates public conscience, respect to common things and recognition of the unselfish spirit." Gao said.

By Wang Hanlu, People's Daily Online

(Editor:王寒露)

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