Hide The Pain Harold, also simply referred to as “Harold” or “Maurice” is the nickname given to a senior stock photography model whose facial expression appears to indicate suppressed pain and/or discomfort.
The earliest known archived thread, where Harold first got attention, can be found on Facepunch, dating back to 2011. On September 13th, Facepunch forum user Greenen72, posted stock photos with the old man, originally from the site DreamsTime due to pictures having the site’s watermark on them.
On October 23rd, 2011, a Facebook page for Hide the Pain Harold was created. Another Facebook page was created on January 1, 2014. This was titled “Maurice” (his alternate name) and has over 10k likes. On May 5th, 2014, Harold’s stock photos inspired a lengthy tribute thread on 4chan‘s /b/, crafting a fictional story about an unhappy old man working as a stock photography model. Then on September 7th, Imgur user someshitbag compiled notable quotes from the 4chan thread into a gallery post titled “Hide-the-pain-harold,” which garnered more than 880,000 views in just over three weeks. On September 10th, a Youtuber ChinnyxD uploaded the story, narrated through text-to-speech.
On October 31st, 2013, a subreddit community for stock images, including Harold, /r/youdontsurf, was created. On sites like MemeCenter, stock photos featuring Harold have been edited to image macros, mostly used for sex or similar kinds of jokes.
On March 3rd, Kőszeg, Hungary resident András Arató identified himself as the man in the stock photo on the pain_harold group on the Russian language social network VK (shown below). On March 5th, 2016, Redditor The_Shreckoning announced Arató’s identity on the /r/youdontsurf subrredit.
The same day, YouTuber Gigatless uploaded footage of Arató appearing on a Hungarian television game show (shown below, left). On March 6th, the hidyourpain YouTube channel uploaded footage of Arató verifying his identity.
On March 23rd, 2018, Instagram user fuckitimarobot posted a photograph of Arató posing with a fan at a bar with the caption “So my friend just met Harold tonight. Don’t let your memes be dreams” (shown below). Within 48 hours, the post gained over 16,100 likes.
That day, YouTuber smillmf uploaded a mini documentary video of in which Arató visits Manchester, England to watch a football game (shown below). In the coming days, articles about the video were published by BoingBoing and Manchester Evening News.
In September 2018, Arato hosted a Tedx Talk in Kyiv, Ukraine. In the talk, Arato discusses the story of his life as a “meme-hero,” as well as his career as an electrical engineer in Ukraine.
His story begins with a vacation in Turkey, where a photograph of him was taken. After uploading the photograph to Facebook, a professional photographer contacted Arato regarding modeling, inviting him to a trial shooting. Both were happy with the results and continue to work together, resulting in a “couple hundred” stock photographs.
Several months later, Arato began finding the photographs used in a variety of other contexts, outside of the stock photographs he agreed to. While he considered taking action, he says, Arato decided there was not much he could do. There was “no solution–only a temporary solution.”
In the remainder of the speech, Arato discusses how he began to accept his meme celebrity and his embracing of the notoriety, establishing a homepage for the photographs.
On June 25th, 2019, the presentation was uploaded to YouTube. The post received more than 580,000 views in three days (shown below).
Interview with Know Your Meme
On April 9th, 2020, KYM interviewed András Arató as part of their editorial series that follows up on people featured in prominent memes. In the interview, he shared his backstory alongside detailed information about how the stock photos became memes and how he ultimately learned to embrace the persona of “Hide the Pain Harold.”