We all know that poop ain’t pleasant. That’s why we hold our noses and give it lots of generally negative names such as “defecation,” “excrement,” “waste” and lots of other names.
But it seems we’re living in a new age of bodily waste fandom. A time when a grinning internet emoji has grabbed our attention and made poo our bestest little buddy, not to mention our most poopular, er, favorite picture to slap on messages to friend and foe. Why, I even spotted an article recently that talked about a little 3-year-old named Aubrey who demanded that her upcoming birthday party be a poop-themed one.
“For months, any time we would talk about her party, she said she wanted ‘poop balloons and poop cake,'” Audrey’s mother told CBS News. “We tried to suggest other ideas, but every time we asked it was always poop. … I thought that the grandparents might question it, but they were totally on board. All of our family and friends were.”
Now, if you had detailed this sort of story to someone nine or 10 years ago, they might have blanched and felt sorry for this obviously disturbed little child and her codependency-riddled family. But not so today.
It all started back around 2008 when Google wanted to expand its emoji picture realm and thought an excrement icon might add some emotional expressiveness to our written communications. The original was actually a bit more authentic version—a lump of stuff with no face and a bunch of swarming flies. It was intended, perhaps, as a way to react crudely without actually being flat-out crude.
Some, though, thought that the pile of doo-doo emoji needed some, uh, freshening up, for obvious reasons. So someone remade it with big bright eyes and a shining smile: a happy dollop of sweetness that you just had to take home to meet mom. And when I say sweet, I’m not just joking around. Have you ever noticed that the poop emoji and the ice cream emoji have exactly the same shape? Only the ice cream is on a cone and looks way more sad.
No wonder little Aubrey wants poop T-shirts and poop party favors. No wonder she wants this image to represent everything good about growing up.
“When she’s older she’ll have plenty of people trying to tell her what’s cool and what isn’t,” Aubrey’s mom said in her CBS interview. “We just wanted to embrace the weird now.”
I say pshaw to that kind of thinking, Mom. This isn’t weird. This is the new reality. It’s life in the internet’s image. And we see it happening over and over, the enthusiastic embrace of ideas and images that popular culture would have (rightly) turned its nose up at only a few years ago. Hey, by the time little Aubrey grows up, there’ll be some other internet trend, way more outlandish than emoji, that’ll represent cool to she and her pals. And that little smiling poop pic? Why, by then, he’ll probably be president.