Why can't babies catch a break?

By Rachel Yang
May 11, 2020 at 05:52 PM EDT

People have always loved babies on the internet. They love posting cute videos of them, especially if a puppy is involved, and sharing the funny things they do (remember peanut butter baby?).

But everything changed this spring when society — well, social media, anyway — seemed to turn against our littlest ones. One of the first signs appeared in late April when the now-infamous Big Baby created seismic waves on the internet with his bouncing.


A Twitter user shared a TikTok of the unusually large infant bounding around in his diaper, captioning the tweet, “Is anyone else just absolutely REPULSED by this giant baby." The post went viral but wasn’t without controversy. While many responses added to the joke (e.g. “put it back in the lab please”), others were outraged that people were "body shaming" babies.

Then, a few weeks later, Elon Musk and Grimes welcomed their son into the world. The couple, already known for being ... eccentric, topped themselves by revealing their child's name: X Æ A-12.

People immediately took to social media to roast the unusual moniker.

“Elon Musk really up and named his son a Strong Password,” one user tweeted. Another wrote, “Elon Musk’s son not gonna have birthdays he’s gonna have updates.”

After Grimes explained the meaning behind her son’s name (which led to even more questions), comedian and writer Broti Gupta tweeted an out-of-context clip from a 2012 60 Minutes segment that referred to babies as “perfect idiots," among other put-downs.

“Loving this absolute roast of babies,” Gupta captioned her tweet, which has racked up over 115,000 likes and 22,000 retweets.

Why does the internet keep ragging on babies?

Three separate viral tweets dunking on babies in the last month? It can’t be a coincidence. Why do people have it out for these innocent, defenseless creatures?

Well, that might be the answer right there. During this time, when everyone is stressed out and looking to blow off steam, the easiest targets are those who can’t punch back (maybe except for Big Baby. He looks strong).

And for the most part, the jokes are harmless. Big Baby is too busy playing in the mud and being big to know random internet weirdos are making fun of him. X Æ A-12 is probably pooping in his robotic diapers at this moment and almost certainly doesn't know about Twitter.

Plus, many of the baby jabs are really criticisms of the parents, who, in most of these cases, should maybe know better than to trust the internet with their children. It turns out that Big Baby is actually three years old and it was his mom’s idea to share her son with the public.

"I woke up on Sunday and I said to my husband 'I'm going to make him famous' and it happened," she said in an interview.

Commenters, of course, disapproved: “Don't post videos of [your] child to ‘make him famous’ and then get upset when the internet ... says something mean,” one commenter wrote under the article.

Musk, meanwhile, is always a lightning rod for online criticism. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has been called out for numerous antics, like that time he called one of the Thai cave divers a "pedo," or his continued railing against stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic. So it's no surprise his baby's unusual name captured social media's attention (especially after we later learned that X Æ A-12 is not even a legally viable name California).

It's not all bad

If you felt like society was crumbling because some people have been making fun of babies, you can relax a little. These kids aren't going to see these tweets (at least not for a while), and they're most likely safe and sound at home — especially Musk and Grimes’ kid, who will grow up in the lap of luxury.

Let’s end things on a positive note and remember that the internet hasn’t totally forgotten its love for babies. Case in point, Marie Kondo’s own large baby. There have only been overwhelmingly positive responses, given that her daughter is pretty dang cute, not to mention Kondo’s public image is generally positive and centered on organization and “finding joy.” In every sense of the word, Kondo is the furthest thing from messy.

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