Monday, November 30, 2009

Luddites Throughout History

Carl Wreckman, of Louisville, Kentucky, has stated in numerous conversations around The Lamp & Lather Barbershop on Hoover Street that he "don't know nothing about any of this 'computer' nonsense, and don't care to, neither. I want to read my newspaper on paper, not on some Jap contraption the kids use for killing aliens or whatever the hell they're doing on them things."

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Senator John McCain admitted, "I am a [computer] illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all the assistance I can get."

Modern day luddites often provide great 30-second "offbeat" story filler on TV and radio. What's often forgotten is that there have been people throughout history who have shunned advances in technology. Most of the earliest luddites' actual identities have been lost to history, but their stories endure.

Much as we take it for granted today, toilet paper was once innovative technology. There are stories, however, found on ancient scrolls about crotchety old men in the marketplace -- luddites do have a very specific demographic, no matter what age in which they appear -- who insisted the invention was just a fad. They steadfastly continued using the traditional, old technology of a handful of rocks to clean things up after answering nature's call.

Long before there was a word for luddites, there were crotchety old men who believed sandals were just "a flash in the pan." They waved their hands with disgust, and shook their grizzled heads at the newfangled foot contraption, as they stuck with the soul-edifying practice of walking their feet bloody on rocks, getting to where they needed to go.

Even back in the carefree, open-minded days of 8,000 B.C. Asia, luddites scoffed at the technology of the time: the wheel. Although the wheel revolutionized the world, and is ubiquitous in transportation to this day, there were crotchety old men at the time who waved their hands and spat upon it as "some new gadget them kids invented instead of getting serious about real work." The luddites of that era were steadfast in their rejection of the wheel, continuing to use the old tried-and-true square wheel, which the trendy new "round" wheel would quickly replace.

Luddites of the 20th Century provided no end to entertainment. It's a little known fact that astronaut Neil Armstrong believed the earth was flat. Authors of textbooks have continuously refused to include this information when detailing Armstrong's life. "How can anyone who's been in space and actually viewed the earth from there still believe it's flat?" asked librarian Elma Windroper. Only once, in October 1974, did Armstrong reply to such a question, saying, "The earth is flat, but discus shaped. When I viewed it from space, I was seeing the earth's flat side, rather than it's edge. There is no contradiction in my being an astronaut and believing the earth is not round."

1 comment:

Macphisto said...

I think inventing the wheel was the first indication we should have stopped.