November 25, 2008

Web sites help soothe everyday stress

Web sites showing too-cute puppies and offering too-precious pet humor provide an antidote for U.S. consumers stressed about reality, scientists say.

About 4 million people, for instance, visited the six shiba inu puppies being raised in San Francisco and visible via, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Puppies, puns and other playful diversions are available online when people need a break from the real world and the stress it can bring, observers told the newspaper.

Everybody needs comfort and escape, says Silicon Valley futurist Paul Saffo. In the past, you had do it by going to the photocopier and copying some stupid joke. Now escape is one click away.

And while the three-martini lunches seem ancient, you can look at I Can Has Cheezburger in most offices, said Alex Halavais, assistant professor of interactive communications at Quinnipiac University in

Hamden, Conn. I Can Has Cheezburger features pictures of pets with captions of what they might say.

We just want to make people happy for five minutes, said Ben Huh, chief executive of Pet Holdings Inc., which runs a network of humor sites including I Can Has Cheezburger. We hope to bring balance into the lives of people who are struggling.