Like many a BBC reporter before, I come to you with news of a coup, and perhaps the most significant transition of power you’ll read about this weekend.
This is Igor, a very good dogCats on the internet are over. Done. “Cheezburgers” are off the menu. Play yourself out, Keyboard Cat.
While in years past we’ve perhaps welcomed the charming cynicism of the likes of Grumpy Cat, it seems people of the internet are now, in stranger times, longing instead for the unconditional and unwavering love of dogs – and I have the highly subjective data to prove it.
Let’s start with Reddit. The top three posts of all time on its r/aww subreddit, the section for all things cuddly, are all about dogs.
“But wait!” you might say. “The fourth one is a cat!”. Ah, but is it? It begins with a cat, but watch closely as it climbs out of its cage and into the one next to it. What does the cat find? A dog! That should be all the proof you need.
Socialbakers is a company that monitors social media for trends and stats relating to things that are most popular. I got in touch with them about this, and within hours they came back to me with the goods.
For starters, the runaway champion of most popular animal on Facebook is a dog named Boo. He’s got more than 17.5m likes, more than double that of his closest competitor, Grumpy Cat.
In third place, Nyan Cat – who isn’t even a real cat, for crying out loud.
On Instagram, fine, I’ll admit, the top celebrity is a cat. But 2nd, 3rd and 4th place? All dogs. All good dogs.
When it comes to searches on Google, dogs .
But more significant was the historic moment on 3 January 2016, when, for the first time, the term “cute dogs” overtook “funny cats” in global searches.
I think I’ve proved my point.
Like any viral phenomena, there’s a new vocabulary to get your head around if you are to be a part of this new term of internet governance.
Dogs aren’t just dogs. They’re doggos. Puppies are puppers. And while not all puppers can be considered doggos, all doggos are most certainly puppers. Or woofers. Woofers that bork. If you want, you can boop a doggo’s snoot. That is – to lightly bop on one’s nose.
When in mild distress, or sometimes just for emphasis, their chosen curse word is the ferociously aggressive “heckin”.
Oh, and if a dog sticks his or her tongue out a little bit? That’s a blep.
Like any new language, the best way to learn is to engross yourself in the culture – and one fine place that speaks fluent doggo is the happiest corner of the internet, Facebook’s Cool Dog Group (CDG).
Here you’ll find the likes of Igor, who, let me tell you folks, is a born superstar, believe me.
Igor’s just one of hundreds of puppers posted every week, a most welcome addition to news feeds that would otherwise be clogged up with baby pictures and wedding photos. You’re welcome.
‘They’re good dogs, Brent.’
It’s the grassroots of doggo appreciation that has the movement set to make huge strides in 2017.
It’s being spearheaded by Matt Nelson, a 20-year-old who studies golf course management in North Carolina, and a man described by serious newspaper Washington Post as “the internet’s most famous dog rater”.
Nelson runs the WeRateDogs account on Twitter. People submit dogs to be rated, and Nelson will consider the merits of said dog and provide a score out of 10.
Recent scores: 12/10 for Hercules, 13/10 for Duchess and 14/10 for Sundance who, in a short clip, plays the drums.
Late last year this generous but fair system was brought into disrepute by the user Brant, who questioned why all the dogs got such unfathomably high ratings.
“They’re good dogs, Brent,” replied Nelson – an era-defining retort which you can now buy on a hoodie. Or a mug.
Since then, popularity has exploded. He now has over a million followers.
“We started up an e-commerce store,” Matt tells me. “We have a book deal. So many things I thought you could never do with just a Twitter account.”
You could say there’s plenty of data out there to suggest that I’m wrong, and that cats are still very much in control. And you’d be right – I found plenty evidence which completely disproves the theory I’ve outlined here, but I’ve left it out as I don’t care.
There was one piece from Gizmodo in 2015 that suggested there were scientific reasons to why cat memes were more popular online – but to that I say WRONG. Fake meows.
Because the web is just different now. Looking at cat pictures was a way to waste time by mucking about on the internet.
Now, like the therapy dogs of the real world, internet doggos are supplying a much needed diversion from the humourless drudgery that makes up much of the modern social web.
“Dogs are just a pure innocent thing,” Matt Nelson says. “They are the embodiment of unconditional love, and that’s what people want now.
“I see my account as this refuge of something bright on the internet.”
And so that’s it. Sorry cats. You had a good run.
Before publishing, my editor told me I was brave to write to this piece.
“No no,” I said. “Brave is allowing people to leave comments…”