A small part of me dies when I see something being destroyed. Watching a vase shatter, a tree being cut down, a city laid to waste. When hiking through a forest, where spiders have woven their webs between branches, letting them dangle overhead or in my face, I cannot bring myself to tear them down.
Spiderwebs are spun to capture insects, to entangle them in their adhesive silk until the weaver of the web comes to devour them. It is essentially a death trap, a weapon, and a prison, but so beautiful. Perhaps the purpose of the spiderweb is not important, but the design and construction of it are what matter. Spiderwebs are an architectural feat of natural art. A sturdy and intricate web is spun by dozens of tiny threads, coordinated to enact a single purpose of entanglement. The beauty of all these small parts working together, orchestrated by an eight-legged mastermind, is spectacular. To me, it is like a wonderfully-designed building, but a living and breathing monument artistically crafted with intention.
Spiderwebs are not cobwebs. Rather, cobwebs are former spiderwebs gone dormant. Merriam Webster defines a cobweb as “the threads of old spider webs that are found in areas that have not been cleaned for a long time.” Cobwebs are ancient structures built and abandoned by spiders. To compare, spiderwebs are like modern structures–such as the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building–whereas cobwebs are ancient ruins, such as the Mayan Pyramids or Great Wall of China. As these webs are strung with individual threads to create a collective piece, when these pieces are combined, entire metropolises can be formed.
As networked beings, spiderwebs should appeal to our natural tendencies. Our bodies are a system of complex networks–with veins and blood-vessels, complex organ systems, muscles, etc–we travel across lands on networked routes–highway systems, rail-lines, flight paths–and most of our world is a series of webbed connections–water pipes, electric wires, cable lines. It is only logical that we are drawn to interact in webs, especially in the Information Age and opportunities created by the Internet, the world’s largest web. Social networking sites embrace our webs of social connections–our networks. Spiders embrace networks as well. They take advantage of the potential power provided by their webs and rely on them for survival. As humans, we must also rely on our networks. We need to be connected with others, not only for physical support–such as transport, utilities, etc–but for social and emotional fulfillment. Webs are beautiful things, and it is a travesty to lose them. Even if they are spiderwebs.