The Cute EpidemicKittens: they just won't go away. You must look at them! They and their assorted cute friends—puppies, monkeys, duckies, hippopotami—have taken over the internet, and have already become a leading addiction among men and women alike. Cute cravings must be fed, productivity be damned. A baby bear licking a swan! A parakeet wearing a tutu! A kitten roller skating on the back of a pink stingray! The Observer predicts a "cuteness surge." This will be our downfall. Our supposedly sophisticated elites have allowed their cutie wootie nom nom nuzzle muzzle urges to become their drug, their porn, their shame:

"It's embarrassing if you're a particular kind of person—a Manhattan media person, like somebody who considers himself to be thoughtful or have a generally elevated level of media consumption," said one such Manhattan media person who wished to keep his name out of this article. "You don't want to be aligned with moms. Because literally, this is the meat and potatoes of their Internet consumption."

(GUESSES?)

Some enjoy the cheap gags at LOLcats. But others, like [VH1 writer] Mr. Gottlieb (who says he likes LOLcats), see these images as mocking animals, and also people, via the animals. "Sometimes it seems like it's a proxy for making fun of retarded people," he says.

And Cuteoverload overlord Meg Frost admits the truth:

But for anyone still uncomfortable admitting their admiration for her work, Ms. Frost wants you to know one thing: "There's no shame in kittens. It's better than porn for sure."

"Oh, well, I guess I should say that for myself," she added. "Some 45-year-old guy might not agree."

[Seamy underbelly of the cute world explored by the Observer's Matt Haber]