Absurdist Facebook Groups Are Thriving In The Pandemic
Ever want to be an anteater? Well there’s a home for you. Check out A group where we all pretend to be anteaters. It’s over 25,00 anteaters strong who like to “SLORP” and share pictures of their meals and sweaters.
Rather be a bug than eat one? Check out A group where we all pretend to be ants in an ant colony which currently has 1.6M members or A group where we all pretend to be Bees, which alone has added 10,000+ members over the last thirty days, growing a third in size.
Ribbit, ribbit? There’s A group where we all pretend to be frogs in the same pond. Posts among the nearly 6,000 amphibians debate whether to eat the ants in the ant colony group or form a strategic alliance with them.
The charades go on…
Facebook’s Groups have had a second coming as of late, especially within the last year amplified by the platform’s own Super Bowl Ad focusing on the feature. The ability to develop tighter, closed networks revolving around identity and interests has become a bright spot amidst the negative headlines of social media’s echo-chambers, trolls and misinformation. Refocusing, everyone from cancer survivors, craft cocktail makers and cat lovers can now find a home to share their stories, away from primary connections.
But perhaps the warmest of these Facebook Groups are the ones that don’t make any sense. Take a peek into A group where we all pretend to be aliens tryna be human or A group where we speak gibberish and pretend to understand each other, which also added 10,000+ new members over the last month. The silliness is somehow heartwarming.
Faced with the bleak reality of a pandemic, these groups are dialing up the absurdism, delivering innocent ridiculous which no one can deny during a time like this. It’s an effective escape for all.
Many of these groups were created over the last year, but they’re now playing a critical role. While social media provides community, these groups provide community in a profound, untraditional sense. There’s no explicit objective besides purring in A group where we all pretend to be cats. But that collective meowing and hissing at “intruder dogs” is enough to scratch the itch of affinity and safety in numbers. We may be separated, but we’re not alone. We’re in this litter box together.
During a time in which we feel so lonely, perhaps the path of least resistance to inclusion and comfort is making up our similarities. That we’re left to pretend in order to belong is one way of putting it. But another is that we’ve mischievously found a way to connect without sensible communication. It’s working.
This hunger for community is so intense that many of these wholesome groups are being quite candid in their names. There were over 200 posts in a day in A Group where we all Pretend to be a Family. Along these lines, there’s also a group where we all pretend to live in the same neighborhood, A group where we all pretend to be roommates, and A group where we all pretend to work in the same office. While private, their membership approval process is straightforward, welcoming and jokes in themselves.
Poke around a group and you’ll quickly notice peculiar dialects and running gags. Inside jokes used to exist between close ties, but now they thrive among strangers.
Another force behind the rise in these groups is the act of play, a lost pastime for many adults. Besides sports, which is competitive, imaginative adult play is hard to spot nowadays. Sex kind of counts.
According to Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., a psychology writer, “Our society tends to dismiss play for adults. Play is perceived as unproductive, petty or even a guilty pleasure. The notion is that once we reach adulthood, it’s time to get serious.”
Identity experimentation is another element at play here. A Group Where We All Pretend to be Rich, a group where we all pretend to be middle aged soccer moms and a group where we all pretend to be inmates or guards allow for roleplaying, which is known to be critical for the development of empathy and communication.
While we can knock the impracticality of these groups, playing is also vital for our creativity, stress relief, mental sharpness and relationships — today, and also when we’re not living through a global crisis.
Head of the National Institute for Play, Dr. Stuart Brown says, “What you begin to see when there’s major play deprivation in an otherwise competent adult is that they’re not much fun to be around.” He continues, “You begin to see that the perseverance and joy in work is lessened and that life is much more laborious.”
If there was ever a time to get away pretending to be an anteater, now is your moment.
But if dining on insects isn’t your style, there’s always A group where everyone is super f*cking nice to each other for no reason.
It doesn’t matter which of these groups you choose though, because everyone’s just as nice there.