The Power of Cute Runs the World

by Bonnie

I didn’t see cute coming. If you’re old enough to vaguely remember the world pre-internet, would you have predicted how much of it would be used to trigger, awww?

In 2003, This American Life aired a story about one man’s dream: to start a 24-hour cable channel devoted to puppy videos. How eccentric! Maybe, just maybe he might have something there. Within a few years, half of the greatest communication tool in human history had pretty much become The Puppy Channel.

Cute is like umami. A delicious, underlying force that compels our choices. We ate for years and years without giving much thought to what it was exactly that made some foods (the fatty ones!) the best ones. When umami knowledge spread everything made so much sense.

What umami does to our tongues, cute does to our hearts. Cute is so insidious, plotting to crawl up onto our screens and into our laps, triggering brain chemical and hormone rushes that compel us to create our own cute mini people. Cute makes us seek out and protect things that are smaller than us, but with bigger, wetter eyes. We always knew sex was a fantastic God-prank, devised to keep creatures coming. Cute seemed so innocent.

Of course, sometimes cute and umami are present in the very same creature, but let’s leave that alone for today.

Full disclosure: Mr. Puppy Channel’s daughter, who reported that story, is my dear friend. Her dad is just as charming IRL.

Image via Flickr