The news cycle is a fickle beast, but there are a few constants in blogging: periodically checking to see how Twitter’s feeling; New York Times push notifications indicating that the world’s ending; consequently stress-JUULing a lot because it’s right there sticking out of the USB thing (do not do this, seriously, I don’t feel good); and then landing, between blogs, on an Instagram or Twitter video of a baby animal. The pattern is as consistent and certain as the rising and setting sun. Today, I watched a domesticated otter named Boo make meowing noises til he got a treat, and then I watched him five more times. I checked in on a hippo I’ve never met but have loved dearly from afar and cried a little at an old reel of her baby videos. I then watched a famous woman dance to funk interspersed with baby goats; I do not understand why, but my focus was razor-sharp, my absorption, deep; I dare anybody to rip your eyes away from any of this content before it’s over.
Thanks to Wired, I now know why “watch this baby animal do TK” headlines compel me to click every single time and never ever let me down:
Nobel Prize winning ethologist Konrad Lorenz called this type of compelling cuteness Kinderschema—it’s characterized by infantile traits like big heads and eyes, small noses, fat cheeks, and soft, chubby bodies. This is probably why Bear 409’s rolls are so squee-inducing. (Unchubby adult bears are not very Kinderschema-tic, which is why teddy bears evolved over time to have shorter noses and more prominent eyes.) But the impact of that brain-grabbing adorableness is largely positive: Studies since have found that gazing at cute animal faces not only boosts mood but also improves focus, which you might want to point out to your boss if you ever get in trouble for tuning in to an animal cam during business hours.
Cool, dicking around on the internet during office hours is good! I will re-watch the otter to de-stress one to five more times and then sign off and dance like (Tessa Thompson dances like) a goat!