“People are much lonelier than they used to be,” says Gray. “So what do they do? They get a pet, or if they can’t, maybe because of their landlord, they spend all their time on YouTube looking at other people’s pets acting human.”
Indeed, celebrity animals are like an “electronic pet,” says Susan Nance, a history professor at the University of Guelph in Canada’s Ontario province. Tamagotchi for the digital age – with even fewer responsibilities.
“It's a collective delusion or group fiction that we all create together to imagine that this animal exists out there somewhere and that he somehow knows he's famous, and that he likes the attention,” says Nance.