What was it that made me finally accept the inevitable? Perhaps it goes all the way back to 2010, and 'The Internet Is Made Of Cats', which is always playing in some deep neural network of my brain at any given moment:
According to Google (who knows everything and is never wrong) about 4 - 5% of the internet is porn. And yet 15% — that's right, fifteen percent! — of the internet is related, directly or indirectly, to cats.
How is this possible?
Well, it's quite simple. I've massively abused the statistics, and deliberately chosen a discredited source to back up the point I wanted to make. Reddit puts cat traffic at closer to 1%. But that's still more than most humans. In fact, more than pretty much any human that isn't Donald Trump.
Which brings me neatly on to the point of this article. I can't remember where on the internet I read the line:
In an alternate universe, Donald Trump is President of the United States in an alternate universe.
But over the last few years, my social media feeds have begun to fill up with politics. My friends, and their friends, have stopped posting about their own lives, and have started posting about their political opinions. The whole character of social media has changed.
And yet, despite all the fucking craziness going around the planet right now, the one totally dependable, gold-standard certainty of social media is that there is always someone posting a picture of a cute animal. And that that person is me.
We take it for granted, of course, but think about it for a moment: of all the warm and fuzzy things in the world, why cute animals? Why not pictures of pouring wine, or coffee, or beer? Why not videos of sporting victories, or candid confessions? These things do get shared, but not on anywhere near the same scale. I mean, there are many more images and videos of cute animals than there are of cute babies, which would make a lot more sense to share.
Something that the internet has taught us all, without really realising, is that there is something deeply deeply primal about cute animals. That they are far more important to human happiness than anyone would have guessed in, say, 1990.
So why not go with that?
Why not acknowledge that:
Pictures of cute animals are an extremely effective and reliable way to improve your state of mental wellbeing
Improving your state of mental wellbeing is increasingly becoming a medical necessity for anyone like me who hates (a) nuclear war and (b) Nazis
Now, I'll continue to be political on this website and on my social media when, and only when, I feel it's unavoidable. For example, when it comes to the representation of Englishness in culture, I have something of a stake in that, being one of those traditional-music-type people. If the people who do it loudest are bigots and racists then there comes a point where you need to declare which side you're on. (I.e. not theirs.)
But generally I hate doing it. And I hate doing it because this website is really not the place for it. And neither is social media. It may feel like it has a positive effect, but it's impossible to actually resolve anything.
But just because I don't want to use this space to be political, it doesn't mean that I can't use it for The Greater Good™.
Which is why I have decided to introduce a new feature on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Starting next week, each Monday morning (when we all need it most) I will be sharing a picture of a cute animal. This will have nothing to do with my music, or my life generally. This will just be a cute animal. It might be a local cat that actually belongs to one of my neighbours but basically lives with my wife and I, like the one in the picture above, or it might be a completely random one.
But the point is, if you think I'm just doing it as a cynical ploy to pander to the basest instincts of the global village, you're absolutely correct.
Ooo, panda. I should find some cute pandas.
Here's a sneak peak of this Monday's offering:
By James Bell
Trad singer, songwriter and romantic fundamentalist.