I had not heard of the term ‘milkshake duck’ until yesterday. This is not surprising since I am always way behind the trends in the fast-moving world of social media. If I blog about some social media phenomenon, you can be pretty sure that it is already a few years old and may even have passed into oblivion, replaced by something that I have not heard about as yet.
The term ‘milkshake duck’ apparently originated in 2016 with this tweet.
The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist
— pixelatedboat aka “mr tweets” (@pixelatedboat) June 12, 2016
The tweet is wryly referencing how something that starts out as a seemingly innocent viral meme (A duck that loves milkshake! How adorable!) that catapults someone into instant positive celebrityhood then quickly results in that same person being castigated after internet sleuths dig through their past life and unearth all manner of unsavory details. So people who were unknown rapidly rise in public esteem before equally rapidly sliding down again.
So how did the term itself become a meme?
The Milkshake Duck tweet hung out for a while, steadily accruing hearts, until exactly one year after it was posted, when the developer of a buzzy new game was revealed to have been a Gamergate supporter. The gaming community began to refer to the developer as a “Milkshake Duck,” and a meme was born.
There are many examples of milkshake duckery such as the ‘curvy wife guy’ and very recently the ‘cinnamon shrimp guy’. Another notorious case is the Plane Bae saga where one person was dragged into the spotlight by other people despite all her efforts to avoid any fame. The person who did the dragging was later roundly castigated for unleashing the internet hounds on that hapless person.
We have reached the stage where there are now compilations of milkshake duckery and clearly we are going to see a lot more of them.