O2 Be More Dog Advert

Be more dog? Why would I want to do that? As Johnny, the anti-hero of Mike Leigh’s harrowing film Naked, says they’re either daft or vicious. I have a cat – most of the time he keeps himself to himself, cleans himself and occasionally comes and sits on my lap and headbutts me to remind me, like an emotionally-distant parent, that he does love me after all. Now and again I give him some catnip, which is hilarious for various reasons. It’s a hassle-free and mutually satisfying relationship.

Sure, dogs seem to have a laugh, but they’re also the smelliest creatures on earth. When I was a kiddo there were two dogs that lived down the road. They were called Scruff and Whisky.

Even as a child – therefore delighted by virtually anything, especially when furry and friendly, I wasn’t that keen on Scruff. He was dirty and smelly, basically an alcoholic elderly relative with wet trousers. I preferred Whisky, but I was discouraged from being too friendly because he ate his own crap. And Scruff’s. And the crap of other dogs. If that’s being more dog, you can keep it.

Being more dog, in this context, is basically Carpe Diem for the LOL generation. Carpe Canus, perhaps. This makes sense, if you think about it, because telecommunications plans are slightly less interesting than filling in a claim form for working tax credits. So they need a bit of jazzing up with a CGI cat running around like the dick that most dogs are.

“Love to try the latest tech?”, asks the campaign. Do dogs love trying new tech? I must have missed the mutt next door rocking his Beats By Dre as he goes on his tour of the neighbourhood’s lampposts or humps the postman’s leg. Being More Dog.

Look, I have nothing against dogs. But I’m irritated by the suggestion that I need to be more puppyishly enthusiastic about life, especially when it’s one of those Saturday-Night-Continuity-Announcer voiceovers berating me for not streaming porn, listening to Dappy’s new diss tape and snapchatting my mates with earth-shattering observations on X-Factor and what colour a dress is.

That’s the real face of smartphone comms these days. The days of Encarta are gone. No-one really thinks the internet and 4G is going to usher in a new era of enlightenment anymore – we’ll settle for Vine, Instagram and mindless tweeting. I have nothing against these apps as platforms – but their use, all too often, is mindless flatulence. Recycled wit, banal observation and routine exclamation.

It’s the Be More Dog of behaviour, seeing no value in anything other than an uncritical indulgence of the senses and desires. It has led to a maelstrom of data, information, noise and colour that is incoherent, dazzling and numbing – a nuclear blastwave of hot, vocodered crap smashing you straight in the face. It’s not quite eating other people’s shit, but it certainly involves immersing yourself in a lot of it.

You know what you get with dogs – and increasingly with humans? Continuous Partial Attention. You can’t get more dog than that – and rather than being something to be proud of, I have a terrible fear that it’s destroying our ability to make any kind of sense of the world. In that context, I think a little less Be More Dog and a little Be More Cat might be good for all of us.

As I speak, my cat is sat beside the fire having a snooze. Earlier I listened to The Archers, then I watched the rugby, then I ate Sunday dinner. Now I’m watching Inspector Morse with a good glass of red wine. Later on I’ll read a book in the bath, then goto the pub. Then I’ll listen to Book At Bedtime. From where I’m sitting, cats have got it sussed.

Be More Cat

Henri Le Chat Noir is, incidentally, my personal favourite cat video on the web. He is a lugubrious existentialist French cat. He thinks dogs are idiots.