Definition: Luddite - Word of the Week

Definition: Luddite

Noun: A person who is afraid of technology, or will not use gadgets or the internet

Original: A member of the Luddite movement - a group of British cloth makers who smashed the machines that were taking their jobs.

History of the Luddites

Today, the word "Luddite" is used to describe anyone who refuses to buy a smartphone, or get a Facebook account, or even a computer. But it comes from a  group of people who caused a lot of trouble in the late 1700s, during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

In England at the time, most cloth was made by hand by skilled workers in textile (cloth) factories.  Some of the first machines ever made were "mechanical looms" which turned cotton into cloth much faster than a human could.  These meant that fewer workers, who were paid less, could produce much more cloth in a day than the factories which used skilled people instead of machines.

The workers began to lose their jobs to the new machines, and a man called Ned Ludd (who lived in the same forest as Robin Hood, near our English school in Manchester) gathered them in groups, and began to attack the factories.  They smashed up the machines that were taking their jobs, and became the first organised anti-technology group in history.

Ned Ludd

Modern Luddites

These days, we call someone who is afraid of technology a "Luddite". Nowadays we know that if we didn't replace workers in textile factories with machines, we wouldn't have moved on to cars, electronics and airplanes.  But the Luddites were afraid of change, and so they fought against it.

What words do you have in your language to describe someone who is afraid of new technology?

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