A reclusive middle-aged man who appears to have abandoned his former life to live in a cave and study has become a social media sensation in China.
On July 2, a man, surnamed Liu, recorded a video of another man in a tattered shirt sitting in a cave, smoking and reading a book while taking notes with his spare hand in Neijiang, Sichuan province, in southwestern China.
Liu was visiting friends in the region and they went for a walk to see the caves in the nearby mountains, where they found this middle-aged man sitting in one of the caves.
“When we were standing nearby talking, we didn’t realise there was a person in the cave,” Liu explained. “However, not long after, I noticed someone sitting there and found the man taking notes while reading a book. He looked about 40 years old.”
Liu said that the man, who seemed to be afraid of being disturbed, didn’t respond to the group’s presence.
Many basic living necessities, such as quilts, buckets, pots, and bowls, are seen lying on the ground in the video. There are also a lot of cigarette butts around the cave.
“The living conditions were bad,” Liu said.
According to what Liu saw, the man had been living in the cave for some time.
“I’m not sure if he stays there because he suffered some mental trauma,” Liu said. “Based on the surroundings, there were not many visitors, so I believe he chose to live there because he does not want to be disturbed.”
According to Liu, some people commented below his video claiming that the man resembles a runaway family member.
“I want to see his face because he reminds me of my uncle, who ran away from home years ago and also enjoys reading,” one person said.
In 2019, a homeless Shanghai man named Shen Wei, who abandoned his family in 2002, became an internet celebrity. He was dubbed “Master Hobo” after a viral video of him discussing Zuo Zhuan, an ancient Chinese narrative history that is traditionally regarded as a commentary on the ancient chronicle Spring and Autumn Annals .
As “neijuan,” or involution, which refers to the fierce competition in labour markets and in the education system, has become another symbol of China’s hyper-competitive culture, escaping from harsh routine has gained popularity among white-collar workers.
As a result, many people praised the cave hermit for ignoring worldly pursuits and choosing a path of spiritual freedom.
“I really admire his courage, which not everyone possesses,” one person said.
Another commenter said: “He has built his own spiritual world that is not disturbed by the outside.”