Thursday, September 19, 2013
The Internet and Cats
If you are on social media, chances are, you probably have watched cat videos and browsed lots of cat images. Cat owners are creating their cat’s profiles, and sharing updates in character on Facebook. Cats have their own friends, wall posts, conversations and even relationships.
A local (Singapore) Cat, @Satsugai Cat has more than 5,000 friends on Facebook, 3,000 fans(https://www.facebook.com/catwisdom) on Facebook and 20,000 followers on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/satsugaicat) Another cat, Duke Orange(https://twitter.com/dukeorange) has more than 1,000 twitter followers and more than 1,000 friends. (https://www.facebook.com/dukeorange) In the US, there are lots of famous cats, Sockington (https://www.facebook.com/sockington) has more than 10,000 fans and 1.3 million followers on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/sockington) Maru the Cat has more than 18 million viewers on a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_AbfPXTKms) . Grumpy Cat has a lot of Memes, A coffee Drink (http://grumppuccino.net/) and a movie deal. (http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/grumpy-cat-signs-a-hollywood-movie-deal-still-not-impressed/)
One might ask why people follow cats. I’ve looked at many cat Facebook profiles and cat Twitter accounts, many of them are humorous, some pretty serious, while others – creepy. The things shared on their posts are generally cat or pets related.
So why are cats more popular?
There is a new dimension of self-expression with cats. These creative people share cat pictures with captions on LOLCats in Catspeak, a language with spelling and grammatical errors made to sound cute. (http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/ ) When someone finds the images with the captions intersting, they share it with their friends who share it with their friends as well. This happens so often that the guy who started the I Can Has Cheezburger network managed to build a multimillion dollar corporation out of silly cat pictures.
The following are reasons are why cats are popular online.
People relate to cats.
In many ways, cats are very expressive and have a range of emotions which can be captioned. Many people on the Internet are introverts, and cats are seen as self-dependent introverts because they are more likely to spend time with themselves.
Cats are cute
People like to share cute animals like dolphins, hamsters and puppies. And yes, cats are cute. To add to the cuteness, the behavior of young cats are often unpredictable and interesting, and they can be very creative to get what they want.
That’s how cat owners socialize
You can bring your dog out on a leash to a park, but you can’t with your cat. Perhaps the Internet is the way for cat owners to socialize. If they do not bother to bring their cats for walks, posting their cat photos and videos and commenting on others is the next best thing. They can do it at their own convenience.
Cats transcend culture
No matter what language you speak, cat videos can speak to you. Recently, in August 28, 2013, over 10,000 tickets were sold for Lil Bub and Friends (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx6cY84XmwU) at an event at the Internet Cat Video Festival. (http://www.walkerart.org/press/browse/press-releases/2013/walker-art-centers-internet-cat-video-festiva)
Cats are funny
Cats seem to be cute and self-possessed, but at the same time arrogant and self-pompous, making them perfect vehicles for Internet humor. Cats have a lot of dignity and somehow humans like to see them getting humiliated online.
Culture shift to own cats
Many people own cats because of their lifestyles. Geeks tend to own cats as cats don’t need walks and cats are pretty independent. Everything is good when food and water is provided and the litter box is not full. Cats are also gaining popularity as pets as people who own pets later in their lives tend to get cats and many household with cats tend to own more than one as well.
On the Internet, people can be interacting with friends and other pet lovers by commenting and sharing cat video or pictures, even when they are allergic to cats. Thus Internet cats become a social object to be shared and conversation point to help connect people. Perhaps people secretly want to be like cats as cats seem totally comfortable being exactly what they are and they live for the moment.