NEWS CENTER has been streaming April the giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park for what feels like forever (or, since February 22). We try our best to have the feed up as long as possible, as Facebook caps off the live feed at four hours.
The second the stream goes down, our viewers passionately remind us to put it back up. We're talking phone calls (at 1:00 a.m.), Facebook messages, emails, the whole nine. People are glued to their screens watching April's every move.
Which is great! We love that people are tuning into NEWS CENTER to keep a watchful eye on her. But more often than not, we ask ourselves, "Why are people SO obsessed?"
We turned to Dr. Thomas Cooper, a psychologist in Portland, for the answer.
"There’s a component of human behavior that relates to this," he said. "It’s known as operant conditioning. There are reinforcements for all of our behaviors and all of our consequences. And what research has shown is that intermittent reinforcement.
Basically, getting a reward for behaviors that don’t happen every time is something that’s most likely to reinforce those behaviors.
"So going back to that feed, 'I'm going to check it now, is there a baby? Nope, I'll come back and check it later.' The best analogy for that is gambling or the slot machine," Dr. Cooper said.
Keeping tabs on April isn't necessarily unhealthy, he says, but if you're skipping work or other important duties, then it's obviously cause for concern.
Viewers have said they're just happy to have something positive to look forward to, given the political climate. And Dr. Cooper agrees.
"I think the recent environment inclines us to look for good news stories. Concerns about politics, wherever you fall on the spectrum, there’s something to be afraid of or concerned about, theres a lot of anger. And what we have with the April situation is sort of good news. People like animals, people like babies, baby animals are even better so it’s something to really be excited for."
Okay, back to the live stream......