A floppy purple pigeon has been making waves on social media, popping up in comments sections, and lending itself to many a meme spinoff, leaving many an internet user to wonder, just what is Trash Dove and where did this wacky pigeon come from in the first place? The animated cartoon bird flooded Facebook news feeds over the weekend, becoming the latest viral phenomena to grace (and torment) social media. With one giant eye and a knack for head banging, the sticker has become a universal catch-all reply for any post — although it's also quickly becoming controversial. But whether you love the strange little guy or find his virtual omnipresence annoying, this city-dwelling dove doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.
Trash Dove is the creation of Florida artist Syd Weller, who first designed the bird in early fall live on her Twitch channel, reports the Daily Dot. By late September, Weller had turned her original drawing into "Trash Doves," a set of 25 downloadable iMessage stickers "For your coo' conversations." The stickers showed the purple bird in a variety of animated poses, from carrying a briefcase to sipping coffee and trying to fit a donut around its neck. Then, on Jan. 31, the sticker set arrived on Facebook and was quickly adopted in Thailand. Trash Doves went viral in Southeast Asia as early as Wednesday, Feb. 7, filling comments sections and inspiring some... interesting videos.
So why did this purple bird capture the hearts of the people of Thailand? One theory is that "nok," the word for bird, is also slang for someone "hopelessly single or suffering from unrequited love." Many of the Trash Dove videos feature young men bopping their heads along with the Trash Dove. It's no surprise that once people discovered that the animation of the bird thrashing its head up and down worked so perfectly when set to music, the sticker became instant viral gold.
Did I mention that the Facebook stickers involve a lot of bread? Because that's pretty great, too.
By the weekend, Trash Doves' popularity spread to Europe and the United States, where hashtags such as "Purple bird" and "trash dove" began to trend on Twitter and in Google search results. In a few short days the purple bird has been parodied, turned into countless memes and gifs, and used to troll Facebook posts around the world.
But before you start posting Trash Doves repeatedly in a thread, the meme has seemed to take a darker turn. In the Facebook comment thread of a New York Times article detailing the instance when the Nazi-era anthem was mistakenly played at the Fed Cup, the Trash Dove was posted a whopping 93 times by the same person. Trash Dove has seemingly been co-opted by the "alt-right," putting it in the same category as Pepe the Frog and even edging into some Neo-Nazi territory with some unfortunate photoshop. Hopefully, Trash Dove will be reclaimed, and we will not see such an adorable meme be used for purposes of hate.
Why would anyone want to make a trash dove cry?