a bug's life

Have You Considered Simply Being an Ant?

You and your friends. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I think we can all agree that, right now, it would not be bad to be an ant. It might even be fun. Consider: When you are an ant, you have no idea what global pandemics are, and it is within your power to go outside or inside — even inside homes that are not your own — at will. You still have concerns, such as passing shoes and children with magnifying lenses and cinnamon (ants, allegedly, hate cinnamon), but for the most part, you’re just wobbling around, tunneling with your friends, finding food and moving it to your hive. Everything is gravy. A bit predictable, maybe, but then you have to decide what kind of routine you prefer: the chaotic tedium of mandatory isolation, or tedium that relies on teamwork and clambering over the bodies of your peers in pursuit of a single, simple goal.

If you like the sound of the latter, well, there is an online forum for you: “a group where we all pretend to be ants in an ant colony,” which currently counts nearly 2 million Facebook users as members, I mean ants. The premise is simple: You function as a member of this virtual ant colony, pulling together to L I F T when someone posts a photo of, I don’t know, a lone grape, or to M U N C H when one of your peers spots an inviting leaf, or L I C C an ice-cream cone some careless human abandoned on the sidewalk. Why do you do this? Because you are an ant, and you are hungry, and your Queen is your sun, and you must pay tribute. It is not much more complicated than that, and therein lies the beauty.

“We have filtered out all the COVID-19 posts so it’s like an escape,” the colony’s creator, 20-year-old Tyrese Childs, told NBC. Similarly disallowed: bullying, hate speech, promotional spam, explicit content, reposted content, violation of other ants’ privacy. This is a space wherein you are compelled to “be kind and courteous,” to do your bit when asked. It is sort of the utopian version of our current situation, except the ants who prioritize their personal gym liberties above the greater good get booted from the colony.

So! As we enter week … hmm … of isolation, are you going to be the kind of person who bakes yourself a millionth sourdough, or the kind of person who helps their ant friends deliver an orange slice to your Queen? Ahem, OUR Queen?

Have You Considered Simply Being an Ant?