Cat Videos same as Therapy?
By Ashley Schultz
Lil Bub, Grumpy Cat, and Piano Cat are just a few of the viral cat videos that have taken the Internet by storm. Although these videos are entertaining, it has been found that they also provide more than a good laugh.
According to a study by Indiana University Media School researcher Jessica Gail Merick, “Some people may think watching online cat videos isn’t a serious enough topic for academic research, 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. We all have watched a cat video online, but there is really little empirical work done on why so many of us do this, or what effects it “might” have on us,” added Myrick. “As a media researcher and online cat video viewer, I felt compelled to gather some data about this pop culture phenomenon.” In Myrick’s study it was found that people were often more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media, they had fewer negative emotions, and the pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating. She concluded that her results suggest that online cat videos could be used as a form of low-cost pet therapy. She stated that, “Even if they are watching cat videos on You Tube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward.”
Even while writing this column, I ended up watching several cat videos – the likes of Aaron’s Animals and Cole and Marmalade. Although it did delay the completion of my column, along with one of my three cats, constantly walking over my keyboard, it did give me an emotional boost to finish.
Many people indicated they also produce their own cat-related media to post online. These posts often amass comments and likes. Online cat-media consumption is, therefore, an interactive process where media consumers can be media producers and media critics all in the same space. I personally know this as my social media page is full of videos and pictures of my three four pawed felines. I receive a positive emotional response from the reactions of others viewing my cat pictures and videos.
So….maybe a new motivational and inspiring way for employers to increase employee performance will be to take time to watch a few cat videos. Next time you are caught at work watching a cat video, you can say it is emotional therapy!