The 21st Century Ant and Grasshopper

Once there lived an ant and a grasshopper in a grassy meadow.

All day long the ant would work hard, collecting grains from a faraway farmer’s field. She would hurry to the field as soon as dawn came, and struggle back with a heavy grain of wheat. She would store the grain in her larder and hurry back for another. And so she continued, without pause, until night fell.

The grasshopper would look at her and laugh. “Why do you work so hard, dear ant?” he would say. “Summer is here, and the days are long and bright. Why not come and sing with me, and upload videos of our songs to YouTube?”

But the ant ignored him and carried on with her work. All throughout summer the ant toiled in the field, while the grasshopper posted videos on YouTube. At first the grasshopper’s songs were bold and original, but these garnered few views. Having learned a valuable lesson about creativity, the grasshopper uploaded videos of himself singing a cappella covers of the soundtracks of old Nintendo games. These videos garnered many views, and an online marketing specialist contacted him. The marketing specialist suggested that the grasshopper add kittens mewing and farting to his next video, to represent the game’s sound effects. The grasshopper did so, and the video went viral.

All of the ant’s friends sent her a link to “A cappella Super Mario Bros. underground theme (w/ farting kittens!!!),” but she didn’t have time to watch it because she was busy trying to make new connections on LinkedIn. For the collecting grains of wheat from a faraway farmer’s field industry was oversaturated, and the ant’s four years at the College of Ant Studies were not getting her as far as she had been told they would. Since every ant in the faraway farmer’s field had a degree in Wheat Grain Gathering, she was not able to gather nearly as much wheat as she had budgeted for.

Summer turned to autumn, and autumn to winter. The days were short and grey, the nights long and dark. The temperature dropped, and snow fell, and with nothing to do outside even more people watched the grasshopper’s YouTube videos.

But the ant did not watch any YouTube videos, as she had to cancel her Internet subscription to make ends meet. She had gathered just enough grains of wheat to get her through the winter, but with her student loans to pay off she couldn’t afford any luxuries. And she couldn’t even begin to think about going back to school to get her master’s in Wheat Grain Gathering, even though she would need one if she ever wanted to gather more than a small amount of grain.

Meanwhile, the grasshopper lived in comfort off of ad revenue, the sale of singles on iTunes, and the profits of his “Grasshopper and Farting Kittens” line of clothing, wherein the grasshopper and kittens were depicted as various video game characters who farted on each other. Every now and then the grasshopper would upload a new video, but mostly he just bummed around and played Call of Duty while network executives bid for the right to develop a reality show about him.

The ant was dreading another long summer of inglorious labour, but then her sister showed her the grasshopper’s latest viral hit, “Mewga Man Medley,” and she perked up. “I shall go ask the grasshopper if I can be in his videos,” she said, “and I will never have to do real work again.” So off she went to the grasshopper’s house and knocked at his door. “Hello, grasshopper! Here I am to sing with you!”

“You didn’t want to sing with me before I was Internet famous,” said the grasshopper, “and now you would upset the delicate formula my marketing team has coldly calculated to ensure maximum viral efficacy. There is no YouTube stardom for you here.” The grasshopper sent her away, and then he spent the rest of the day calling people cockqueers on Xbox Live.

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