Everyone poops, and for babies in particular, pooping is a huge part of an average day. It's not necessarily appropriate for a middle-aged man to regale people with stories or pictures of himself pooping, but since babies have no control over their bowels, those tales and images are viewed as much more acceptable -- funny, even. Because of this, the occasional picture of a newborn defecating on his or her mom or dad -- usually in a professional photo shoot, which heightens the quality of the image -- goes viral. When this happens, my inbox rapidly fills with baby poop as the story reaches me from far and wide, and I'm reminded once again of a few things: 1. We are all human. We all poop. 2. Babies don't even realize they're pooping, and when it happens with a fancy camera pointed at them, it creates great "shareable content." 3. These pictures might somehow indirectly encourage, or at the very least, not discourage, other parents to post the same "content" themselves on social media.
Granted, parents have been posting pictures of themselves covered in fecal matter and urine since the dawn of Facebook, but that doesn't mean it hasn't ramped up a bit since sites like Awkward Family Photos or photographers themselves post humorous and grotesquely mesmerizing pictures of babies shitting on their parents. I'm not suggesting that parents only got the idea to post (or post about) such things from a single image that got shared over a bajillion times by every parent on the internet, because that would be false. Parents love posting pictures of their kids' poop, whether it's on their arms, face, breasts, hair, or clothing. Nothing entertains them more than grossing out their non-parent friends, sharing a laugh with parent friends, or showing off their suuuper duuuuper wacktastic day wherein their baby did what every other baby has done at some point in his or her life to its unsuspecting parents. Being shat on is even a point of pride for some parents, who can't help but share the joys of parenting with their extended friends network, no matter the inherent disgust. The fact that they're enthusiastically shoving shit -- be it a massive blowout or a tiny turd -- in their friends' and acquaintances' faces with some degree of glee is in itself telling, but the fact that some parents' pictures go viral for days or weeks on end as a result is slightly troubling.
Let's retrace a bit: Who could forget this photo from earlier in the year featuring a cackling dad and his leaky, sleepy daughter? Or how about the poop pièce de résistance that captured hearts and ruined lunches with all its projectile glory? With so much attention paid to bowel accident celebrations like these, it's no wonder some parents don't think twice before posting about their baby's number two with a wink and a smile. Understandably, most of these parents are simply blown away by what's shot out of their baby's ass without warning, and they think that kind of occasion merits a shout out on Facebook. They even believe on some level that their friends want evidence of the outcome, which is almost never the case. (Although you wouldn't know it by reading the comments, which are often loaded with chortling parents who empathize.)
So parents, put down your DSLRs, close Photoshop, and listen up good: Unless you happen to take one of those rare and professional-grade photos of your baby unexpectedly and artfully crapping on you, it's in your best interest to keep that shit off Facebook. Don't believe me? Think your baby crapping on you is so hysterical, it warrants a status update? Check out the following examples and let me know in the comments if I've managed changed your mind. Here are the various types of "been pooped on" status updates one might find while scrolling through Facebook.
1. The Joker
I've already written about how many foods parents have ruined by discussing them in relation to baby poop, but somehow that list just keeps on growing. So far, it includes a veritable menu of items, including blueberries, corn, kimchi, and hard-boiled eggs -- and let's not forget I dedicated an entire column to parents who think their baby's poop smells exactly like popcorn. Read in small morsels, these food/poop updates aren't so terrible, but combined, they're absolutely disgusting. Once you've read about a parent discovering potato skins in her child's diaper, the last thing you want to see is a shirt dribbled with "gravy-like" diarrhea. What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, ladies.
2. The Parent Who Thinks Everyone Finds Her Baby's Poop As Hilarious As She Does
Something tells me "Smelly Ellie" made quite the impression in Kristi's office back in 2011. See that mustard smear of liquid shit? It might look small, but according to Smelly Ellie's mom, it has a BIG smell. Even bigger than the reheated leftover curry you wish your officemate never ate, but at least that smell is coming from actual food. There's nothing grosser than thinking, "Ugh, what is that smell? It smells like shit in this office!" and then discovering that it is, in fact, shit. None of us goes to work prepared for that kind of "bonus."
3. The #Hashtag #Poop #Storyteller #Haha
When did it become normal for people to write out full sentences in the form of hashtags? Is this the future of communication? It IS still possible to get a point across without using a hashtag to #sayeverythingyoumean in #onequickburst, #yaknow. Oh, and speaking of bursts, thanks for posting this delightful and essential picture of your poop-covered shorts, Pauline. I never would've been able to picture it accurately in my mind without the photo. I'm glad to know Zachary splattered poop on the left pant leg rather than the right, because I plan to paint a portrait of the incident to hang in my home office.
4. The Prideful Parent AKA Check Me Out Shirtless AKA This Guy Is A Douche
Well, Carrie, that's probably because randomly encountering poop pictures of Facebook is nobody's thing. I also appreciate Brandon's "epic diaper failure" photo album explanation about where his shirt went. Pro-tip: If you have to explain "where your shirt went" for any reason, in any context, you might be fishing your compliments on your shirtless bod. Especially if the context is "my shirt got poop on it, u guyz." Put a shirt on, Brandon. You're not Marky Mark, and this isn't a Calvin Klein ad for hot dads who have been pooped on by their babies. But thanks for the clarification.
5. The Revenge Taker
Oh, SNAP, Debbie (who looks old enough to be my mother in her profile picture and is probably related to Jessie). Way to state the obvious since apparently no one else is going to do so. Jessie was way too concerned with exacting revenge on her Facebook friends ("If I have to wear it, Facebook has to see it! Haha, bitches!") than cleaning up her kid's poop-caked butt.
Of course, it's not the timing that's being disputed here. Everyone knows it only takes half a second to snap a picture. It's more the principle of the thing. If you had to get a permit to be a parent the way you do to be a driver, and the multiple choice question for how to deal with a blowout included the following answers: A) Clean up the baby as soon as it happens, B) Strip the baby, put him outside, and hope that it rains soon, or C) Take a picture, post it on Facebook, and clean up the kid sometime in-between, the answer would clearly be A). But since that permit doesn't exist, and Facebook is a poop haven for parents, on the internet the incident goes. Where it stops, no one knows.
6. The Mid-Poop Kodak Moment Offender
When I started STFU, Parents in 2009, I didn't know that much about babies and kids (but BOY, DO I NOW!), and I remember being extremely grossed out by two separate text-based submissions that involved babies who were "mid-poop." First, I posted about a mother's "still-poopin' diaper" experience in which her friend commented, and I quote, "Those are great. It's like a ice cream machine and the handle is stuck in the on position," and I nearly threw up on my laptop. Then, a few short months later, I received another submission in which the poster wrote about "peeking" in her baby's diaper "to see if he pooped and saw the soft serve as it was being made," and let's just say that my reception of ice cream trucks has never been the same. Now, we've officially come full circle with photographic evidence to prove that indeed, "round the corner, the chocolate's made," and sometimes "soft serve" poop winds up on people's shirts as well as in hundreds of people's Facebook feeds. Good job, everyone. Thanks for sharing and educating.
7. The Professional Photographer
Last but not least, we have an example like this one, which was (and still is) shared publicly on a professional newborn photographer's Facebook page. First, I want to say that Amanda Andrews is apparently a talented photographer who takes many, many pictures of teeny tiny newborns lying on soft blankets and wearing darling little hats. But I can't help but wonder if she posted this picture solely to amuse her core fan base on Facebook, or with the conscious hope that it would get shared several million times and bring publicity to her business? Not that there's anything wrong with taking advantage of a good opportunity -- after all, those viral photos were shared by everyone from your Great Aunt Shirley to CNN -- but should pictures like these be used as a marketing tactic? (Also, I understand that skin-to-skin is great for newborns, but did this (obviously elated) dad really participate in this photo shoot shirtless? What's up with all the shirtless dads?!)
Generally speaking, these pictures are funny. And everything goes viral for a reason. But when it comes to viral pictures of parents being shat on, is the appeal really in the image, or do aggregators just need more content to churn out for traffic purposes? Is there still room for more projectile poop humor, or is the internet already constipated with baby poop? It's possible the main reason these types of viral photos get shared so widely is because everyone is just hungry for more content, even if that content involves a shooting stream of liquid diarrhea. Perhaps that says more about us as internet consumers than anything else.