The internet is a treasure trove of all that is weird and wonderful about the world. These days, it’s especially ideal when we need a break from the post-Trump/Brexit news coverage that’s cemented in certain corners of the web. Take, for example, cute animal videos. Not only are they (and their corresponding adorable pictures) incredibly enjoyable to look at, various studies have confirmed that looking at these while at work actually improves your productivity – yours truly has always been partial to cat videos even though sometimes they bring about feelings of procrastination. And what of those gross-yet-mesmerising pimple popping videos? Few will admit it, but a certain joy comes with watching them – you shouldn’t enjoy them, yet you do.
But why is it that we get a thrill from watching videos that are downright odd, unbearably cute or just plain disgusting? Research says that it has something to do with the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), which is often described as a tingly sensation that some people feel while listening to or watching videos of soft-spoken voices or quiet, repetitive noises, or something known as Mood Management Theory – the idea that genres of media get implicitly associated with certain feelings, i.e., feelings of happiness and contentment which makes you want to keep on watching.
And if you are a big binge-watcher, this could mean that we’re making those associations and they are managing our own moods without us even realising it. “What happens is that, out of habit, [you] turn to one type of media when you feel one way, but when you feel another way, [you] turn to a different type of media,” explained Jessica Gall Myrick, PhD, an assistant professor at Indiana University Media School and author of the cat video study. “Now that we have phones in our pockets, we have these portable tools to regulate our moods.” So, you might be watching puppy videos as a stress reliever or streaming Beyoncé videos when you’ve aced that work presentation; essentially, we’re building up our self-soothing habits and this necessarily a bad thing.
Example, any of the below videos:
The cat who is continually surprised by tickles. CAN’T DEAL WITH THE CUTENESS.
Red pandas. The most underrated of God’s furry creatures.