Person of the Week: Facebook’s Trash Dove


Person of the Week: Facebook’s Trash Dove

Illustration: Mandar Mhaskar

Life lessons can be delivered by the least likely individuals. This week we learnt how to rise above the clutter and stand out in a chaotic newsfeed from a dove. A Trash Dove, to be precise, who is our Person of the Week.

All of this in a week where we witnessed a nail-biting power struggle between two Amma-zingly influential politicians in Tamil Nadu, President Trump’s National Security Advisor stepping down in a cloud of controversy, and Indian weddings come under threat. And then there were the Grammies and the dramatic, unexpected assassination of Kim-Jong Nam.

It seemed impossible that any one individual could ascend to the top of our newsfeeds. But the Trash Dove did it.

You know him. The googly-eyed, floppy-necked, purple-hued pigeon, whose rise was as sly as it was meteoric. He didn’t make any announcements, court any scandals (more on that in a bit), or run for office. Instead, he went viral through Facebook comments, riding the coattails of other, more serious topics. Trash Dove knew that visibility beats content any day, so regardless of context, he showed up wherever he damn well pleased.

Originally designed by an independent artist, Trash Dove was born as part of a clutch of animated stickers created for iOS. However, his mass appeal was lost on the turtleneck-clad, hipster-max consumers of Apple – until the flock’s migration to Facebook. Standing on the cusp of virality, Trash Dove swallowed his dignity and went for the lowest common denominator on the Internet: cat videos. Yes, much like Sylvester “Rocky” Stallone’s embarrassing adult video past, Trash Dove’s first starring role was as a floppy penis on a cartoon of a dancing cat.

Online trolls decided to spam liberal pages on Facebook, using Trash Dove’s Elvis-level rubberneckin’ to derail threads and overload comment threads with shit posts.

We tracked down the reigning King of the Internet to gain insights into this and even more insidious rumours surrounding him. “In today’s cut-throat meme environment, you gotta do what you gotta do,” Trash Dove told us in an exclusive interview. “All you young memes out there, if a cat asks you to be his dance partner, get that in writing, or you might end up playing his swinging dick.”

For some reason, the visual of an ineffectual, flaccid, and lifeless penis struck a cultural chord in Thailand. Thai Facebook users were so enamoured of the bird behind the phallus that they tracked down Trash Dove and began posting the original GIF of him headbanging on every comment thread they could click on. Syd Weiler, the creator of Trash Dove, even created a special “Thank You Thailand” poster in appreciation for the fame her creation had received.

Trash Dove has since then, been uneasily occupying the top spot among all memes in current circulation. “I first sensed a rumbling when haters started a petition to get me removed off Facebook,” Trash Dove muttered, taking a long drag of his cigarette. Soon after the petition, like his fellow viral meme Pepe the Frog, Trash Dove also had to deal with the unsavoury business of being associated with neo-fascist social media.

Online trolls decided to spam liberal pages on Facebook, using Trash Dove’s Elvis-level rubberneckin’ to derail threads and overload comment threads with shit posts. “I’m just an animated pigeon who’s incapable of hate! Please leave me alone,” he implored, tears staining the walls as he wept while thrashing his head.

Trash Dove agreed to give this exclusive interview because his fame has gotten unmanageable. The most recent development on the neo-fascist front saw Trash Dove redrawn as Hitler’s Iron Eagle. “My grandfather was a Polish pigeon during WWII, and if he were to see his grandson’s work misappropriated in such a manner, he’d shit on my artist’s car from pigeon heaven,” sobbed Trash Dove.

What’s next for this iconic animated sprite? “Screw that petition and the haters who started it,” he said. “Maybe I’ll fly away from Facebook of my own volition and move to the meme retirement home, WhatsApp Forward Centre for Aged Memes.”