"One joke in the BuzzFeed offices is that no one employed there can quite explain to their parents what exactly it is they do. To those parents, I would like to say: I can’t entirely explain it, either, but whatever it is, these men and women are so fucking good at it. They have thought hard about who looks at what and why. Jack has done entire studies on why cats have triumphed over dogs on the Internet. (The answer involves "path dependency," the fancy economics term for when one product, like VHS, conquers another equally legitimate one, like Betamax.) He can tell you with some certainty that a reader of BuzzFeed is equally inclined to click on a photo of a dog or a cat—but that he or she is significantly more likely to share the photo of the cat with others. (Why? "Totally non-data-driven theory is that dogs are trying too hard," Jack says.) …
The Beastmasters have trained their whole lives for this, growing up (in Jack’s case) with cats, or (in Chelsea’s case) with cats and dogs, or (in Summer’s case) with cats and dogs and “parakeets and ferrets and guinea pigs and rabbits and other things.” They long ago began making viral videos—Jack, before he came to BuzzFeed, worked for PETA, where his campaign to rename fish “sea kittens” made it all the way to The Colbert Report. They are, in short, a team of relentlessly bright people who have dedicated their professional existence to turning the wasting of your time into a precise science… .
And as the Beastmasters have evolved, their work has gotten more sophisticated, playing on our psychology, our self-loathing, our failure in every other arena to be heroes, even to ourselves. Their mirror shows what it shows. Pulling at random from the past few weeks on the site: “23 Animals Who Are Completely Over Their New Years Resolutions.” “16 Cats Who Care Even Less Than You Do.” “23 Animals Who Understand Exactly How You Feel Today.” “41 Cats Who Had a Worse Year Than You.” “This Sad Santa Dog Vine Will Make You Strangely Nostalgic.” “31 Hedgehogs Who Had a More Miserable Christmas Than You.”
Needless to say, humans wrote those posts. Our online animal brethren will be fine. It’s the rest of us—sunk in nostalgia, regretting our terrible years, struggling even to care—I wonder about.”
“Where the Wild Things go Viral" | Zach Baron (GQ)