At this time of year, when my stress levels are soaring off the charts and I know that I still have three weeks to stagger through before I reach the finish line, I've come to find that I have hardly any energy left to fuel my bleeding heart.

Injustice hardly packs up and goes home for the holidays, but after a year that - even in December - insists on becoming more and more bizarre, I'm likely not alone in needing a wee break from reality.

And what better way to escape from the absurdity that is everyday life in 2016 than to settle down with a nice, heart-warming cat video?

We all know that millennials and their love of cat videos are destroying the world as we know it anyway - why fight the inevitable?


I'm not sure exactly when it happened - probably while I was sipping a green smoothie and antisocially tapping away at my smartphone - but it seems that cat videos have suddenly become a symbol for everything that is wrong with our world.

This week the Commerce Commission asked our two largest newspapers whether they would be posting cat videos on their websites to compete with Facebook.

I am not kidding.

As if the impact upon the domestic media landscape of the emergence of a massive international media behemoth that neither conducts any journalism of its own nor pays any meaningful level of tax could be reduced to an argument about the prevalence of frivolous entertainment.

Our local media might be cracking and fraying, but by all means, let's talk about cat videos.

Like most moments when cat videos are mentioned by people who are not millennials, it's almost as if two worlds collide.

On one planet dwell those who superciliously disdain cat videos and their ilk, marrying fear and ignorance to conclude that such triviality somehow presents a real threat to serious society - though many of those same people probably watched the Real Housewives of Auckland without batting an eyelid.

On the other live those who actually watch cat videos, and understand their value as short moments of stress-busting emergency cuteness.

In a kind of ironic self-fulfilling prophecy, after reading about the Comcom's cat video concerns I sought refuge from the absurdity of it all in the mewling of a YouTube kitten... before spending the rest of the afternoon consuming hard news and features from an array of New Zealand news websites.

Who would've thought that millennials were capable of discerning the difference between light entertainment and vital information?

Or that after taking a break to watch a cat try to attack its own reflection, they might actually want to know what's going on in the world?

Perhaps the funniest part of the discussion was the fact that the true home of cat videos is YouTube, not Facebook.

Facebook's main specialties these days appear to be alt-right conspiracy theories and fake news, both of which it disseminates to vast swathes of people around the globe using an algorithm that can't tell the difference between fiction and reality.

Google's algorithms are perhaps even more disturbing.

Type "Was Hitler bad?" into Google's search box and the top answer it will offer you is a link to a blog article entitled, "10 Reasons why Hitler was one of the good guys".

Despite decades of solid journalistic evidence to the contrary, eight out of Google's top 10 results will tell you, somewhat staggeringly, that Hitler was not that bad after all.

But apparently it's cat videos that present the real threat to journalism.

Call me mad, but the biggest threats to the quality of journalism, in my humble opinion, are an era in which everyone expects their news to be online and free, and the way in which peddlers of misinformation are able to use massive global platforms to influence society with stories that have no basis in fact.

Fewer people are buying newspapers, and online advertising revenues have yet to return the same yield as traditional newspaper ads - to the companies that make the news anyway.

When Facebook can present a never-ending supply of news - both real and fake - that it paid nothing to produce, while slapping ads around it and sharing little to none of its extensive revenue with either governments or the organisations that actually made the news in the first place, the traditional model is stuffed.

That's the real problem.

Whether or not major news organisations might play host to the odd piece of fluffy content is a red herring when the said major news organisations are going to have to fight simply to continue to exist.

If it's any consolation, however - and it shouldn't be - the one form of media that can be entirely secure in the future of its existence is the cat video.

While it may take many months of critical thinking, investigation and fact-checking to produce quality journalism, it takes but a few seconds of unscripted feline frolicking captured on a smartphone to create a video that could end up attracting over 100 million views - each earning advertising revenue for a company that came up with a genius business plan to make millions of cat owners do its work for it for a few cents per play.

Call me catty, but ill-informed jibes about cat videos should have no place in a discussion about the future of our fourth estate.