To Those Who Post Animal Videos On Social Media…Thank You!

Say Hello To My Little Friend
“Say hello to my little friend…”

I’m not being facetious; I mean it. Because I LOVE animal videos. They make me happy. They make me laugh. Sometimes they make my day. I’m not shallow, I’m not a crazy cat lady; I’m just an appreciator of our great animal kingdom. And science now proves I’m on the right track.

Since I no longer subscribe to the local paper (too many ads, too much wasted paper, and we travel too much), I typically start my workday with a cup of chai (lately my thing) and a scroll through various online new sources. And when I get to Facebook, I find myself smiling, grinning, even laughing out loud at the predictably present videos of animals doing those things animals do: being cute, tugging heartstrings, interacting nicely with various species, listening to or dancing to music, or just generally being incredibly entertaining.

It used to be standard operating procedure to poke fun at not only those who posted such pictures and videos, but those who enjoyed them, but there’s been a recent cultural shift, inspired by some actual stats that prove the value of such postings.

A Japanese research paper entitled “The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus,” posits that taking breaks to indulge in a little animal viewing can actually be helpful to one’s work flow:

Results show that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images. This is interpreted as the result of a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing.

Animal videos have also helped raise awareness of the plight of poaching; promoted greater human-to-animal understanding; aided humans as a form of meditation, and even contribute to scientific understanding of animal behaviors:

“They’re not substitutes for good, hardcore research, but they’re very valuable for people who aren’t going to see certain things,” Marc Bekoff, a former professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told LiveScience this week. “From a pedagogical point of view, I wish I had had more access to YouTube videos. I would have probably used them in my classes.”

Others have even extrapolated that the pleasure derived from watching cute animal videos helps in bone growth (that seems a stretch, but, hey, who am I to argue?). Even Super Bowl 2015’s most successful commercial was a compilation of some of the best inter-species videos around (maybe my favorite commercial ever!).

– "Friends forever" Android video screenshot
– “Friends forever” Android video screenshot

Personally, and with kudos to all those many benefits, I am simply entertained. I love breaking up my work to occasionally enjoy cockatoos with decidely different attitudes about Elvis (hilarious!!), a montage of cats who rule the roost, or an elephant finding delight in a big blue ribbon. Of course, baby goats are always delightful, but baby goats in pajamas will leave you speechless. And if you think only furry animals are worth a watch, get a kick of out this octopus determined to hold onto coconut shells he/she found!

These glimpses into the lives, emotions, activities, and predilections of our animal brethren can only help make clear just how alike we creatures are. They not only entertain us, they connect us; they let us know we’re all in this together, living, loving, and banging on pots.

So thanks, everyone, for making my days a little brighter. And now I’ll leave you with Husky Sings With Baby. Go build some bone! 🙂

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