Stolen iPhone leads blogger to China, stardom and unlikely bromance

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Brother Orange is huge in China. Photo: Matt Stopera/Buzzfeed
Brother Orange is huge in China. Photo: Matt Stopera/Buzzfeed

Matt Stopera had his iPhone stolen last February from his favorite bar in New York City. Like most of us, he was upset, but not overly so. Matt got a new phone and went about his life.

A year later, odd pictures of a Chinese man standing in front of an orange tree started appearing on his new iPhone, via iCloud.

Unlike most of us, Matt is a blogger on Buzzfeed. He wrote up a quick post on the site about the photos appearing on his iOS device, and got some attention for it. What happened next is nothing short of amazing.

Matt’s post went viral, and got some serious traction in China.

“Within hours, I’m getting tweets from people in China,” he writes on Buzzfeed. “The story has been translated and put on Weibo, which is essentially Chinese Twitter. It’s blowing up. They are helping me find orange tree man.”

Brother Orange, as he’s called on Weibo, got the iPhone as a present from his cousin, who bought it at one of the over 2,000 secondhand mobile phone shops in Shenzhen, China. The original thief never even wiped the iPhone, which is why the iCloud photos ended up on Matt’s new iPhone in New York.

The fateful meeting, caught on Chinese Twitter. Photo: Weibo
The fateful meeting, caught on Chinese Twitter. Photo: Weibo

Ultimately, Matt ends up heading to China, where he and Brother Orange are treated like full-on rock stars, with a team of translators and helpers to get them from hotel to hotel, starting in Brother Orange’s small hometown of 4.5 million people, Meizhou.

The pair spend a whirlwind week together, goofing off for cameras, taking mud baths, and accidentally endorsing products. Matt really starts to enjoy his new friend’s presence. They totally hit it off, creating a beautiful bromance from their shared experience. It’s stressful and delightful for them both, and Brother Orange opens up to Matt in a way that most Chinese wouldn’t: they become like real brothers.

When it’s time for Matt to head to Beijing without his bro, Brother Orange breaks down and buys a ticket to go with. It’s so sweet, it hurts.

Matt and Brother Orange prove that people can be kind and supportive of each other, even through unfortunate times and experiences. Bravo to them both for transcending pettiness and connecting with each other across cultures and continents.

Source: Buzzfeed