Toonces the Driving Cat
To mangle an old adage, you can't swing a dead cat these days without hitting on a cute kitten video.
Yep, sad but true.
And admittedly, I used to love the original cat video -- old Toonces the Driving Cat of "Saturday Night Live" fame.
Usually the bit ended up with Dana Carvey uttering the running "SNL" gag's punch line, "See, I told you he could drive ... just not very well."
And Toonces would invariably drive the car over a cliff, creating a real TV cat-astrophe.
Ah, if only all cat videos would just end that way ...
But no, not with more than two million cat videos posted just in 2014 alone on YouTube, accounting for 26 billion views. That's 26 billion. Yes, with a "B."
Cat videos, Internet research shows, had more views per video than any other category of YouTube content.
And now, an Indiana University Media School researcher claims that if watching cute cat videos online gets you all warm and fuzzy, the effect could be more profound than you think.
Apparently, watching cat videos does more than just entertain. It can boost a viewer's energy and positive emotions while decreasing negative feelings. Or at least that's what a new study by IU assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick claims.
She surveyed almost 7,000 people about their cat-video viewing habits and how it affects their moods in a study published in the latest issue of Computers in Human Behavior.
"Some people may think watching online cat videos isn't a serious enough topic for academic research," Myrick said to no one's surprise, "but the fact is that it's one of the most popular uses of the Internet today. If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can't ignore Internet cats anymore."
Whoa, I think I just coughed up an Internet furrball.
Interestingly, Myrick owns a pug but no cats.
Yet, she says as a media researcher and online cat video viewer herself, she somehow felt compelled to delve into data about what she calls "a pop culture phenomenon."
There's little surprise that the most popular sites for viewing cat videos were found to be YouTube, Buzzfeed and, of course, Facebook. Purr-fect.
Some 36 percent of the participants in the study described themselves as a "cat person," while 60 percent said they like both cats and dogs.
Participants also reported:
-- They often view Internet cats at work (what a surprise!) or while studying.
-- They claimed being more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media.
-- They had fewer negative emotions (anxiety, annoyance and sadness, etc.) after watching cat-related videos.
-- The pleasure they get from watching cat videos outweighs any guilt felt about wasting time doing it.
Overall, Myrick characterized the response to watching cat videos as largely positive.
"Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional payoff may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward," she said.
Oops, sorry, you'll have to provide your own clever quip in summation here ...
I've been prepping for my rough day tomorrow by watching old Toonces videos.
"Toonces ... look out!"
That darned cat!