“How cravenly we ourselves court approval”

In America people post a video of themselves whistling “Free Bird” in a tutu and they’re heartbroken if they’re not immediately invited on The View.  It’s different in Japan, though.  There, they haven’t yet cottoned to the idea that the whole point of the Internet is not only that it might make you famous and universally loved but that it might make you famous and universally loved overnight, and for no real reason , and that then it would give you fairly precise metrics for just how famous and loved you were, and for how long.  For the Japanese, the Internet is primarily not about self-promotion and exposure but about restraint and anonymity.  …  Think of it this way: What we do on the Internet is mostly “like” things, and while liking them we wait for our own content to be liked.  We check our analytics as we await retweets.  This is where the [Internet videos of cats] come in.  A cat will not retrieve some dumb object so that you can throw it yet gain.  A cat will not do a shtick to be petted on its head.  A cat will not jig for a mackerel ingot.  That goes against everything cats stand for.   …  What an Internet cat does is thus confront us with how cravenly we ourselves court approval.  A cat, if it decides to love you, will do so only on its own terms, and, as [a University of Vienna study on the relationship between cats and neurotics] showed, the more you let it come to you, i.e., the less you need it, the better loved you’re going to be.”

–Gideon Lewis-Kraus, in an article entitled “im in ur internets, kontrolin ur mindz”, Wired Magazine (September 2012 issue)

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