One of the weird side stories that came out of the March 2011 Japanese earthquake was the concern over the plight of Maru the cat. For the uninitiated, Maru is something of a YouTube celebrity, his videos have been viewed 158 million times and he has his own book, DVD, and has appeared in TV commercials. He is famous for stuff like this:
Anyway, Maru and his owner live in Japan and there was a wave of concern about Maru’s condition in the aftermath of the 2011 Earthquake. So much so that his (anonymous beyond her YouTube username) owner did post online that Maru was in fact okay. At first this seems like a story about the internet bringing people together – here we are connecting to some ordinary Japanese person through the antics of her cat, one story in the face of an overwhelming tragedy that ties us together and humanizes (felinizes?) the situation. But then the emotion that one feels after that, is it not relief? Why? Sure Maru is adorable and it’s good that he was safe, but this relief, did it override his fans’ sense of concern or loss at what had just happened? I recall thinking that it was stupid of me to feel relieved that a cat was okay, while simultaneously still feeling relieved. It seems a little obscene, doesn’t it, that we can not worry as much about this earthquake because the cat we know from the internet is okay. Thoughts?