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trash dove

Trash doves: the psychology behind its popularity

In the last couple of weeks, a particular purple bird has taken over the Internet. Users have been flooding timelines and comment sections with the sticker of the bird, dubbed ‘trash dove’. In case, you’ve missed the gif, here ‘s how it looks:

Where did it start

Many believe it started in Thailand. It featured alongside a dancing cat on music video posted on a Facebook page. According to Know Your Meme, the trash dove made its debut on the Facebook page สัตว์โลกอมตีน (Animals With Paws), where it garnered more than 3.7 million views within five days.

Here’s the video:

Soon after the video, the bird gained immense popularity in Thailand and memes based on trash doves started to appear across Facebook pages and comment sections.

Here’s a look at the number of people searching for the term ‘trash dove’ in Google.

trash dove google search

Why did it go viral

To be honest, nobody knows! When asked if there’s a certain recipe for virality, Karine Nahon, the author of Going Viral had said, “Not really.”

“We looked at so many examples and found that you have to have certain ingredients. It’s unpredictable, but that’s the beautiful thing about the nature of human beings.”

But there are certain elements that all viral content have in common.

  1. It invokes an emotion; and
  2. It is easy to share.

But what kind of emotions does the trash dove invoke?  Does it have any cultural significance? The designer of the sticker, Syd Weiler, said she was “inspired by everyday pigeons.”

So, what do doves signify?

They are generally considered symbols of peace. In a few cultures, they symbolizes home and security. Pigeons, which belong to the same family Columbidae, were highly useful in sending messages across due to their ability to navigate. But they don’t excite or invoke any image in particular. Maybe, that’s the secret. It serves as a nice conduit for people to use and express their views without any inhibition. A nice color, big eyes and its funny movements only add to the charm.

Pigeon/dove is a commonplace in Thailand and has a certain context. And, that might have been the trigger. However, the exact reason for it going viral needs to be investigated.

“Its kind of spiraled, but they were made to bring humor into conversations and joy to people who use them and I think for the most part that’s what they’re achieving,”Ms. Weiler was quoted as saying in this report.

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