Luddite trolls

Last night my wife and I were out walking the dog when someone driving past yelled something at us and flipped us off. I don’t recall what he said, but it was only to get our attention. There was no indication that there was a reason for his behavior, only that we were two strangers who just happened to be nearby when he got bored. And, evidently, what he finds entertaining is trying to make random people feel bad.

The incident would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad. I could only shake my head and think, “Your mother must be SO proud.”

It occurs to me, however, that what we witnessed was a reminder of life before the Internet. The Internet did not invent trolls. Clearly they’ve been around far longer than the epithet “troll”. They’ve likely existed as long as there have been ways for people to say or do nasty things to people while either preserving their anonymity or escaping quickly enough to avoid consequences. I can imagine medieval trolls galloping by pedestrians on horses and screaming, “Is that thy face or thy buttocks? Which way doest thou walk?”, then continuing onward before their target can respond.

Or ancient Mesopotamians secretly leaving clay tablets in view in the public square inscribed with “Samok secretly worships Ashtaroth and smells like three-week-old goat’s milk!”

It all just goes to show that technological advancement has not made us any wiser, nor any more productive in our boredom. It just opens up new avenues for the same old debased behaviors.

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