I read this crazy article in The Atlantic, “The Game That Made Rats Jump for Joy” by Ed Yong. Apparently, there is an experiment where scientists successfully taught rats how to play hide and seek. They removed the reward system of water and food, and instead, tickled the rats in order to teach them the rules. The rats were able to understand the rules of the game and switch roles. In other words, they understood when they were to hide versus when they were to seek. It reportedly was important because it demonstrates sophisticated brain activity for animals, but rat lovers/people who keep rats as pets were not surprised as they have observed firsthand the playful nature of rats. The rats in the lab left each day completely spent, just like a toddler apparently, and would sleep hard at night. It was the happiest experiment in the entire lab for both rats and the scientists.
I opened the entire article slack-jawed and could not stop laughing in horror.
First of all, could they think of a scenario more opposite to all my hopes and dreams? Tickle rats? I cannot think of anything more terrifying than looking for rats; oh wait, I can — that would be to be hiding from rats and being found! Eeek! Shudder! Also, like what happened to these people that this is their job? What steps lead to something so strange?
I couldn’t stop laughing as I read the article, and when I explained the horror to Husband, he did not get why I couldn’t stop laughing. Oh well. We’re still married, but it’s awkward. (Just kidding. Maybe.)
As much as there is so much to make fun of in this article, it also served to be a mini wake-up call. Lately, I’ve been very absorbed in the doom and gloom of society — the racism, sexism, massacres by deranged, crazy white men, climate meltdown, etc., etc. but this article gave me some perspective. No matter what, I need a space to have fun — have fun everywhere, at home, at work, on the subway, etc. Because sure, we might get washed away by a hot ocean, I’d really like to giggle before that happens. Like the incredible Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Summit — she is amazing to watch. I feel her urgency and it’s energizing to see someone so authentic, but my god, I hope someone sneaks her a whoopee cushion once in a while, because you cannot continue in activism if you are consumed by rage. Anne Hathaway recently talked about a role where she described the character as more angry than alive — that made sense to me, and we’re all in danger of becoming that state some days.
My depressing posts to come! But for today, enjoy the photo of rats I forced myself to google! (Barf.)