Why are cats so popular on the internet? The answer to this oft asked question is provided by Alexis Ohanian who is the 32-year-old co-founder of Reddit which is a major social media website receiving over 200 million visits per month. Alexis Ohanian is a cat person, a “proud cat dad” and he’s smart. All the quotes are his from 38 minute video of a presentation by him about successful entrepreneurship on the internet. The bit about cats is a tiny section of it.
First, this is what Alexis says about cats and the internet:
“You’ve got to be better than a cute cat photo when it comes to getting attention. The cute cat photo is highest level of getting attention from surfers.”
What he means is that the gold standard for getting the attention of web surfers is the cute cat photo but that is not the answer to the question, why are cats so popular on the internet.
Neither is the following snippet of cat info! He refers to the cat “blep”.
“‘Blep’, when cats are happy and they stick out their tongue a little bit. One of the greatest joys of a cat owner is seeing them blep. If you catch a photo of your cat bleeping you submit it to Reddit r/blep and have a discussion.”
“Dogs can’t blep apparently. A lick is not a bleep. It is only when the tongue is just partially sticking out, cats look absurd when they do it but because they take themselves so seriously it is entertaining.”
Why cats are so popular on the internet
“Every once in a while I am asked why cats are so popular on the internet. I actually know the answer to this. This is not a joke. I’ve done a PhD on this….The thing with cats and it took me a while to realise this; dog owners get to be social all of the time. You get to go to the dog park…etc… you get to go everywhere with your dog on a leash…”
Alexis means that dog owners get the chance to socialise with other dog owners and their dogs socialise too. There is a culture and community around dog ownership which is very public, he says.
“Now cat owners on the other hand, we don’t take our cats outside with some exceptions. We have no venue to bring our cat and just be like..mmmm..[then we discuss cats with someone]. There was no space before the internet for community to happen between cat owners.”
In short: the internet has given a community and a space to share information and gossip about each other’s cat. Therefore cat owners are brought together on the internet to share information and serious concerns about cats. Dog owners are not so dependent on the internet in order to indulge in this informative pleasure. This is a neat reason why cats are so popular on the internet and you can’t disagree with him.
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