23:33 GMT23 February 2020
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    From the “Grumpy Cat” to the “Condescending Wonka” or the “Eye Rolling Robert Downey Jr” – the 2010s, which some call the decade of memes, has brought us a lot of images to describe all kinds of situations on social media. However, some gems in the inexhaustible Internet treasury seem to shine brighter than others.

    Although everyone might have his or her favourites among the viral pictures-turned-cultural phenomena of the new era, some memes have proven to be more relatable, impactful or simply favourite, according to the image-sharing website Imgur. The platform surveyed its users to determine the meme of the decade and found out that it is none other than “Hide the Pain Harold”.

    It asked netizens to vote and pick the best one from 2,000 nominations before the top 10 were selected for the final round in the meme-tastic battle of the decade.

    “A total of 54,768 votes were cast in 72 hours by Imgurians. It was a close race, but we’re proud to announce Imgur’s Meme of the Decade is… Hide the Pain Harold. Hide the Pain Harold represents a deep-seated emotion, a quiet dread, or existential anguish that resides in all of us”, Imgur noted in a special blog post.

    The meme snatched the top spot, which may lead one to ponder why a man suppressing his pain and emotions turned out to be the symbol of the past decade, rather than the no less hilarious “badly photoshopped Michael Cera” or the “this is fine dog” meme, which shows a dog chilling in a room on fire.

    ​Other leaders included Grumpy Cat, featuring a snowshoe cat nicknamed Tardar Sauce, who rose to fame in 2012 after being captured with perpetually annoyed facial expressions, Nodding Gandalf, and Obama-Biden Bromance.

    One can still argue about their cultural value, but the meme phenomenon impacted the life of the man behind Hide the Pain Harold, 74-year-old Hungarian Andras Arato.

    As Andras, who suddenly became an online sensation, explained in an op-ed published by The Guardian, the pictures, which essentially propelled him into the domain of memehood, were taken during a photoshoot about a decade ago, back when he was still working as an electrical engineer.

    About a year after that, Andras did a reverse image search on a photo of himself and was rather surprised by the result, as he previously thought that “the pictures would just be used by businesses and websites” and did not expect them to rise to world fame as a meme.

    “People overlaid text on my pictures, talking about their wives leaving them, or saying their identity had been stolen and their bank account emptied. They used my image because it looked as if I was smiling through the pain”, he said.

    As the meme spread, journalists started contacting Andras in hopes of getting an interview, while some people even started to suspect that he isn’t a real person but merely a “Photoshop creation”.


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