The thing that’s been going down all over Thailand this week has been — quite literally — a headbanging Facebook sticker from the Trash Dove sticker set.
The purple bird, inspired by a standard pigeon pecking the ground for garbage to eat, is from a sticker set made by American artist Syd Weiler. She created the set late last year for the App Store and it was licensed for Facebook on January 31.
It had moderate popularity in the first week of its release but it exploded after being featured in this 20-second Thai video:
Released by the page, Sat Lok Om Teen (Animals with Paws), a Thai Facebook community for sharing funny videos, it showed the headbanging pigeon dancing innocently enough with a hip-thrusting, pencil-drawn kitten. Soon enough, however, the video takes a darker turn as the forms merge and the pigeon’s bobbing head seems to become the kitten’s engorged, bobbing…well, you know.
The person that made the video — and he or she is still anonymous — is pretty much responsible for the current worldwide obsession with the sticker. After that video, viewed over 4.5 million times in under a week, Thais, having the viral-loving culture that they do, began sharing the bird sticker like crazy, inspiring a slew of related videos that included people headbanging after seeing the bird, cosplaying as it, merging it with other memes and taking the artist completely by surprise.
— Shauna Lynn (@shaunaparmesan) February 11, 2017
After the sticker went viral in Thailand, Westerners caught on as well but started using it to spam comment threads to the point that some people have been blocked from the sticker set by Facebook for “misusing the feature,” according to the Trash Dove Memes Facebook page. That page has even created a contest offering a free sticker to anyone who can get blocked by overusing the doves and send a screenshot to prove it.
Send me screenshot if you achieved it to win a free god sticker
According to Know Your Meme, shortly after the spamming started, some white supremacists may have tried to co-opt the headbanging sticker for their own purposes — photoshopped pics of the bird with swastikas and Hitler were widely circulated. This may have just been the work of internet trolls trying to get a rise from people though, according to The Daily Dot. The possible Nazi connection is kinda funny when you consider Thais’ well-known soft spot for the Nazi dictator and the fact that they made the sticker famous.
Another theory about the bird’s viral popularity in Thailand is related to hip Thai slang. The word for bird in Thai is “nok,” and in slang from the country’s gay community, it’s used as a verb for failing romantically. For example, if you said, “Today I nok,” you might mean that you flirted and got rejected or just didn’t get laid that day. That slang might have originated from going after someone who flew away like a bird.
This might be part of the reason that the original video was made or why it took off in Thailand, but it could also be, as some Coconuts staffers said, “It’s just cute.”
To thank Thai people for making her meme super-famous, Weiler made a video where she performed a wai and announced that the stickers will be available on the LINE app very soon.
LOL, she’d probably never heard of LINE at this time last week.