Digital Pretend: Why we pretend to be ants in “A group where we all pretend to be ants in an ant colony”

Digital Pretend: Why we pretend to be ants in “A group where we all pretend to be ants in an ant colony”

“ I’m in love with the queen,” a poster writes. “WORK,” reads the top comment. “WORK WORK WORK,” writes another user. 

“You traitor,” reads the top comment. “BITE,” writes another user. “BITE BITE BITE,” writes another.

“Just found out my homie got crushed by human today RIP bro,” another poster says. Then: 25 replies and remind him to get back to his purpose: Work. 

Welcome to “A group where we all pretend to be ants in an ant colony,” a Facebook Group with over 1,548,538 members who are, well, pretending to be ants in an ant colony.  The group is one of a large, interconnected network of semi-satirical, semi-reverent Facebook groups centered on loud and fervent pretending where jokes and memes are shared.  But there is more where that comes from, just like ants group members share mutual regard, communal distribution of labor, and selfless hard work.

Ants work with no one in charge.

One user would post a picture of bread, honey, or any other source of food, and commenters would come to LIFT, WORK, and take food back to their queen signaling a group effort to take the prize back to the ant hill for better inspection.

Despite the use of the term ‘queen’ for a reproductive female ant, this is no hierarchical monarchy, neither are there foremen (or forewomen) to direct other workers. Nevertheless, ant colonies effectively allocate workers to different tasks. 

Ants are there for each other.

A member announces that the rain has separated the colony and asks for help to  B U I L D the bridge and commenters would split into build parties, some volunteer to save other ants, others ask for updates, and the colony is eventually united again.

In these stressful times, humankind became more vulnerable and not in control of what happens in their world.  While we’re all experiencing them together, their impacts on us, and the particular patchwork of ways they’ve upended each of our lives — our workplaces, our families, our own health — are unique to each of us. We’re experiencing a shared crisis alone.

These group members chose this unique way to stay sane. In the colony, everything is in control and people are reminded of how simple is life in a world where tragic and viruses are endangering their lives. 

Ants never quit.

Whether crushed by humans, drowned in rain or simply lost their way back to their colony. Ants never quit!  they’ll look for another way. They’ll climb over, they’ll climb under and they’ll climb around.  Millions of comments will be cheering that ant back to her colony and reminding her of the importance of Working.

In their microcosm, members learn to never quit looking for a way to get where you’re supposed to go. Nothing will stop them from their strong belief that hard work is a value that has a moral benefit and will strengthen their character and individual abilities.

At the end of the day, this digital-pretend might be helping millions of users to get through the day in lockdown and deal with social distancing in a different way. 


Read more in our blog.