Recently when I mentioned the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, one of my Chinese friends asked, ‘Who is Princess Diana?’ He has been studying in Ireland for the past two years but when I further remarked that an anniversary of Elvis Presley was also coming up he inquired, ‘Who is he?’
Maybe our world, and the people who mirror it for us, do not have such a planet-wide impact as we think.
Who are the most popular people in Ireland? According to Instagram they are Niall Horan, with 18.9 million hits, Conor McGregor with 11 million and Rory McIlroy with 1.2 million. After that they plunge to the hundreds of thousands of hits.
In China, according to the local version of Facebook, they are Xie Na (90 million hits), He Jiong, 84 million, Chen Kun, 81 million, and the next seven have an average of 70 million hits each.
It shows that both countries use social media a lot though there are no foreigner on either list. Actually many young Chinese you meet may know about Conor McGregor, Rory McIlroy and even Niall Horan. I sometimes think they do a bit of research about your home country before starting a conversation. But who here in Ireland knows Xie Na with her 90 million followers?
That might change. With its growing population, economy and political power China will soon be setting the trend for cultures and celebrities.
People will be talking about Lu Chen and you will be asking, ‘Who?’