You are Bugs Meaning in 3 Body Problem, Explained

An impending alien invasion threatens humanity in Netflix’s ‘3 Body Problem,’ and the situation gets worse when the aliens make it clear that they are intent on not just being the invaders but also crushing humanity under their boot. Things didn’t seem so bleak in the beginning, especially when many people didn’t know about the whole alien thing. Ignorance was bliss for the general populace, while the scientists and the people in charge tried to control the situation, maybe even find a solution for it. But things soon escalate and eventually get so out of hand that the aliens send a message to the entire humanity, leaving no doubt about their intentions with Earth. What does this message bode for humans? SPOILERS AHEAD

San-Ti’s Bugs Message is to Demoralise Humanity

In a war, brawn is not the only thing that works. You might be all-powerful, but to crush the opposition, you need to break their morale. You have to make the other side think that they have lost without even fighting a battle. When morale goes down, the will to fight goes away, and that leaves the opposition in no state to make any moves against you. The San-Ti are perfectly aware of this tactic, and this is what they do with their “You are bugs” message.

When the aliens found out about life on Earth, they were cautious. They knew how much humans had advanced over the years, and they were aware that should humans continue their streak, it wouldn’t take them a lot of time to become just as if not more advanced than the San-Ti, whom it would take more than four centuries to arrive on Earth. By that time, the San-Ti fleet would be nothing more than a funeral march. This is why they decide to move cautiously before making any decision about how to tackle humans.

Luckily for San-Ti, they find an ally in Ye Wenjie, who, despite their warning, decides to help them. Then, other humans, like Mike Evans, who are disillusioned with humanity and believe that a higher power is needed to correct them, decide not just to serve the San-Ti but to worship them as Gods. Then come the Sophons, using which the San-Ti halt the scientific advancement of humanity, making sure that the enemy doesn’t get any more powerful in the coming centuries.

All of this happens in secret when the San-Ti are still cautious of humans. But then, they start to see how fragile human life can be. The scientists are pushed to the brink of suicide when science fails them, and the ones who support the San-Ti are nothing more than disposable pawns who don’t realize that they are traitors to their own species. Eventually, there comes a point when the San-Ti no longer need people like Mike Evans, and this is when they decide to hit humans with a harsh truth.

Humans have evolved with belief in a higher power, no matter what kind of god one worships. The lack of answers to bigger questions has kept humans in touch with the mystical side of the universe, where they find it easier to bow before the unseen God rather than look for answers around them. This is why, when the aliens make themselves known, when they display their power over humanity, people see it as the arrival of that higher power; they interpret the alien invasion as Judgement Day, and in their minds, no one can survive it.

San-Ti calling humans “bugs” is them telling humans that there is no use fighting or even thinking about putting up a fight because their science has been crippled, and no matter what humans do, they cannot match the power the San-Ti have due to their advanced tech. What is a bug in front of a human, and what is a human in front of a San-Ti? By making humans think that they are powerless against them, the San-Ti aim to make things much easier for themselves. Just give up and die: this is what they mean when they call humans bugs. However, as Da Shi points out, in the end, humans haven’t actually won over bugs. The bugs have been here since before humans, resisting all sorts of pesticides and whatnot, evolving and changing to ensure their survival. If humans are likened to bugs, then humans will act like bugs: they won’t go down easily, and they will find a way to survive, no matter what.

Read More: 3 Body Problem: Why did Vera Ye Kill Herself?