Bees versus Wasps

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Over the 2017 April Fool’s weekend, Reddit carried out an experiment. It created a blank canvas and allowed its users access to create a community artwork. Each user had a pixel and a palette of sixteen colours. They could place this pixel anywhere on the canvas. They then had to wait something like ten minutes before they could add another pixel. The experiment lasted seventy-two hours. Millions of people all around the world took part.

This is what the internet is for. That and porn, obviously. And Wikipedia. And watching people fall off roofs, down holes etc. on YouTube.

Many people think that bees and wasps are the same. They both live in hives, they buzz about getting pollen, they’ve got black and yellow stripes, they’re insects… But they’re not the same. Bees are community driven, chirpy little souls who want to work together to make a better world, not just for themselves but those that they share that world with. Wasps, on the other hand, are cunts. Wasps use the hive for their own ends, will eat the eggs of their neighbours, steal their food and squat in their nests. They are selfish, grabbing little bastards. Bees are socialists. I’ll let you decide the most appropriate socio-political/economic label for the wasps.

When people swarm they come together as either bees or wasps.

You see the wasps everywhere. The road is a good place to observe them. Wasps are the ones who don’t indicate (which I find especially cunty behaviour at roundabouts), park on double yellows when there’s ample free parking around the corner, speed everywhere, and so on. Wasps are all about me, me, me. Bees are the ones who let you out at a busy junction.

However, Reddit’s experiment created results more complex than a simple battle between bees and wasps. There was also a sophisticated series of conflicts between factions that existed inside each camp. For instance, you get German bees and German wasps, British bees and British wasps, etc., so that loyalties are divided between what people think is fundamentally right or wrong and what people are told they should believe in (for centuries British and German bees have been killing each other on the say so of British and German wasps). And so different collectives were created, with organised projects and objectives – some artistic, others (like the sea of blue that aimed to paint out everyone else’s work) destructive and aggressive. Feuds were started, peace deals negotiated through online forums, agreements made to get jobs done. And repeat. It was reassuring to see the swastika that emerged above the German flag was blotted out – the bees fighting back. But I found the other flags disappointing, though not unexpected – some level of national predilection is still seen as natural and relatively harmless; which is one of the reasons, post-Brexit, in the era of Trump and America First, with the Bond villain in control of North Korea, the malicious distortion of Islam, and so on (add your own example of human idiocy) that the world is such a worrying place at the moment. People can be made to believe in the most stupid ideas.

The page I’ve linked gives a more comprehensive break down on how the experiment played out, and what it tells us about human behaviour. But what it boils down to for me is that the world would be a better place if we were more like the bees. Start by letting someone out at a junction. And indicate the next time you approach a roundabout.

PS It’s nice to see a traditional cock and balls amongst the artwork. And the Australian effort is reassuringly down to earth.

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