Cat memes fill a gaping void in our online lives

Antón Barba-Kay in The New Atlantis:

The digital era has two basic axioms. The first is that information has no form; information technology is a means of disseminating and aggregating data, but data itself belongs to no place or context. Data cannot tell the story; information is uninforming and uninformative. The digital age can therefore have no real culture of its own, no culture in the etymological sense of cultivation and accumulated growth. Things trend or happen online, but nothing settles into lasting place or takes its time to show itself significant. Each day’s frenzy and distraction are as overwhelming unto the day as they are forgettable.

The second axiom is that the Internet is for cat pictures; everyone knows that transmitting images of cute animals is the whole point of it. It remains astounding that pet videos run into the tens of millions of views. That they have their own film festival. That they are used as bait to pull people into political misinformation campaigns. That there are bona fide pet celebrities and pet influencers. That some of them are raking it in, with spin-off merch and copyrighted brand clout all their own.

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