How to Be a Cat (And Improve Your Mindfulness)

As a lover of books, I’m always on the lookout for the next great read. But sometimes, it reveals itself when you least expect it: like a black cat crossing your path.

Don’t worry, the book I’m going to cover today is not a bad omen. On the contrary, it’s a good omen that can improve your mindfulness practice. How?

By teaching you how to be a cat! And if you happen to be a dog lover, this book can help you too. The author writes:

Cats are everywhere online. They make the memiest memes and the cutest videos.

Why cats more than dogs?

Dogs didn’t come to ancient humans begging to live with us; we domesticated them. They’ve been bred to be obedient. They take to training and they are predictable. They work for us. That’s not to say anything against dogs. It’s great that they’re loyal and dependable.

But cats are different. The author writes:

Cats are different. They came along and partly domesticated themselves. They are not predictable. Popular dog videos tend to show off training, while the most wildly popular cat videos are the ones that capture weird and surprising behaviors.

Cats are smart, but not a great choice if you want an animal that takes to training reliably. Watch a cat circus online, and what’s so touching is that the cats are clearly making their own minds up about whether to do a trick they’ve learned, or to do nothing, or to wander into the audience.

More importantly, cats are in charge of themselves. The author writes:

Cats have done the seemingly impossible: They’ve integrated themselves into the modern high-tech world without giving themselves up. They are still in charge. There is no worry that some stealthy meme crafted by algorithms and paid for by a creepy, hidden oligarch has taken over your cat. No one has taken over your cat; not you, not anyone.

Oh, how we long to have that certainty not just about our cats, but about ourselves! Cats on the internet are our hopes and dreams for the future of people on the internet.

The author notes that we want to be cats rather than dogs:

Meanwhile, even though we love dogs, we don’t want to be dogs, at least in terms of power relationships with people, and we’re afraid Facebook and the like are turning us into dogs. When we are triggered to do something crappy online, we might call it a response to a ‘dog whistle.’ Dog whistles can only be heard by dogs. We worry that we’re falling under stealthy control.

This book is about how to be a cat. How can you remain autonomous in a world where you are under constant surveillance and are constantly prodded by algorithms run by some of the richest corporations in history, which have no way of making money except by being paid to manipulate your behavior? How can you be a cat, despite that?

The author concludes:

The title doesn’t lie; this book presents Ten Arguments for Deleting All Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. I hope it helps, but even if you agree with all ten of my arguments, you might still decide to keep some of your accounts. That’s part of your prerogative, being a cat.

Complement with our article on how to measure your smartphone addiction level and then, for nothing more than sheer delight, revisit Chinese sage Chuang Tzu on Transformation of Things.

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