Let’s not speak of this again

Sep. 13, 2013 @ 01:10 PM

The Internet died Friday.

It was 30 years old or so, depending on whom one asks.

Leading candidate for cause of death: Cat tweets.

On Friday afternoon, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took to Twitter so that followers could ask questions that, allegedly, a popular cat named Lil Bub would answer.

It’s safe to go ahead and mark this on your smartphone calendar as the day that social media’s usefulness officially surpassed the peak and started the slide toward the same sad pit that contains Usenet, CompuServe and those fancy spinning skull-on-fire images on Web sites optimized for Netscape.

Don’t get me wrong. I love animals, even the ones I don’t cook. Lil Bub is a cute cat and the mission of the ASPCA is important. And maybe you’re familiar with Bub’s publishing venture, a book called “Lil Bub’s Lil Book: The Extraordinary Life of the Most Amazing Cat on the Planet.”

If it’s a book filled with anything but paw prints and tongue impressions, I claim shenanigans.

Anyone who’s owned a cat knows how this question-and-answer session would really go, if it were honest, and it’s not Twitter-friendly:

QUESTION: So, what about that Syrian situation?

CAT: [withering stare]

QUESTION: If you could be any kind of tree, what kind of tree would you be?

CAT: [distracted by a flicker of sunlight]

QUESTION: Short hair? Long hair? Where do you get your ideas?

CAT: [blinks]

QUESTION: Does this shirt do enough to bring out the green in my eyes?

CAT: [licks self]

My younger brother, Don, once ran afoul of Florida’s public education system when he submitted a one-page report about an experiment that he had conducted on animal behavior. He put it in a folder with a classy plastic cover and titled it “TEACHING THE CAT TO SMILE.”

The result of the experiment, printed on one line, read: “Cats can’t smile.”

It was an honest accounting. Personally, I would’ve given him an A, but I’m biased.

Now, we’re on the Internet, pretending to talk to cats. If cats really could talk, I don’t think they’d be flattered. I think they’d just shrug and say, “Whatever.” Then they’d shake their empty food dish at us (if they had opposable thumbs).

And they wouldn’t smile.

I consider this one of those moments when I probably should be grateful for the fact that, someday in the distant future, the universe is likely to have no lasting memory of this online conversation with a cat.

With so much of our shared knowledge relegated to servers on the magical, mystical “cloud” – our virtual Great Library of Alexandria – we’re just one figurative apocalyptic fire away from losing all evidence that we ever talked with a cat, watched a pop star “twerk” with stumbling teddy bears or fooled each other into watching Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

The beauty and curse of our online existence is that it doesn’t necessarily leave a paper trail. Or fur.


Wes Platt can be reached at wplatt@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.