Wyrd Words: Practical Advice from the Hávamál (Part 3) – Odin’s Guide to the Internet

Greetings, and welcome back to Wyrd Words. Keeping the Thor in Thursdays, every other week here on Agora!

One of my readers recently contacted me via Facebook and asked me how we could possibly hope to use Iron Age Lore to explain entirely modern phenomena. She said, and I quote (with permission): “Plenty of these verses are about things that are still a part of our lives today, but what about things that are unique to modern readers? The Havamal isn’t gonna have any advice about things that didn’t exist when it was written. Like the Internet!”

O, ye of little faith. To thee I say:

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PRESENTING: “Odin’s Guide to the Internet”

(Five easy tips for navigating Social Media)

We’re all fairly familiar with Odin’s usual areas of expertise: Knowledge, Wisdom, Poetry, with the occasional dabble in Death and War… You know, pretty standard stuff. Slightly less well known is the Allfather’s impressive degree of Social Media Savvy. Watch as Odin helps us navigate the treacherous waters of the Inter-Webs, via the Hávamál!

#5- Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain

The web is a vast and dangerous place, filled with fantastical treasures. Some of these wonders, however, come with a curse. The curtain of anonymity is a powerful magical tool. Once donned, even the meekest hermit can become a fierce and courageous Couch Warrior. The curtain allows one to attack other Social Media adventurers without fear of consequences or reprisal. Immune to harm from the normal societal rules, otherwise decent people can transform into ANGRY-CAPS-LOCK-BERSERKERS. The danger of “The Curtain” is hidden in its addictive nature. The more one uses it, the harder it becomes to remove it without suddenly suffering the social consequences that the wearer has been avoiding.

I once gave my clothes
to two wooden scarecrows.
They thought that
they were warriors
when they had clothes.
The naked man is ashamed.

(Translated: It’s easy to feel like a “Warrior” when you’re dressed like one. It’s when that costume comes off that we see who’s a warrior and who’s a scarecrow.)

#4- Beware The “Internet Expert”

Odin warns us of many different dangers that lurk in the murky waters of Social Media and YouTube comment boards. Some of these are monsters that we’re meant to avoid, while others are monstrosities we’re meant to avoid BECOMING. The “Internet Expert”  is a beast of the latter category.

These odious creatures were once just like you and I, before they fell into one of the many traps of the internet. Locked in desperate Facebook arguments, they were all alone with quickly dulling facts, their supply of citations dwindling. Thus these Couch Warriors turned to the last tools in their arsenal:

B.S. and Puffery.
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These tools might even allow them some temporary victories among the trolling hordes of the web, but not without a cost. Sooner or later the stench becomes impossible to ignore, and someone is bound to call them out on their tactics. This is the formative moment of the “Internet Expert” that Odin warns us about. Once they’ve been discovered, the would-be-expert has two choices: Come back to the light, or risk transforming into a full blown Troll…

The traveler should keep their wits sharp.
The unwise should stay at home.
Those who know nothing
and sit among the wise
will become a laughing-stock.

(Translation: If you don’t know what you’re talking about, DON’T try to fake it. Trust me, people will know. You’re not going to look clever, all you’re going to do is make a fool out of yourself.)

#3- Don’t Be a Troll

These lesser cousins of Ymir’s brood live beneath network bridges, surviving on a diet of internet memes, negative attention, and “yo’ mama” jokes.  Some of them were once perfectly civil human beings who got caught in the mire and muck of YouTube comments. Others seem to have been born into the dark recesses of Facebook, their beady eyes scanning the scrolling lines of text for an opportunity to FEED.

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(http://www.hashslush.com/google-takes-step-forward-youtube-trolls-takes-one-back/)

If there’s one thing Odin knows about, it’s dealing with Trolls. In his wisdom, Odin reminds us how to identify these dangerous denizens of the net via the Hávamál. Thus we can learn to avoid the malodorous beasts and recognize the signs if we ourselves start down the path of the Troll.

Only a foolish man
mocks everyone
while failing to see
the faults in himself

(Translation: Learn to recognize the signs! Don’t be a Troll. Eventually somebody is going to have a Mjölnir with your name on it.)

#2- Don’t FEED the Trolls Either!
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Trolls give rise to more Trolls, and engaging with them has risks. These creatures cause enough trouble on their own, but the greatest danger lies in their contagious touch! Where one troll finds a feast, others will come. Then, as brave Couch Warriors attempt to fight them off, many will end up being pulled into mire, cursed to join the ranks of the Trolls. These creatures feed off of strife, and trying to fight them off will only present them with a more enticing feast. The Hávamál teaches us about these dangers, reminding us that sometimes it’s better to walk away and let the creatures starve.

 

 

You must not dispute even three words
with a man less worthy than you:

often the better man is defeated
when the worse man attacks.

(Translated: Don’t engage the Trolls, you’ll only get dragged down with them…)

#1- Never Argue With an Idiot.

So after all of these wonderful tips from the Hávamál on how to survive the internet, what is Odin’s #1 piece of advice? What is the ultimate secret to the Allfather’s Social Media savvy?

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I advise you, Loddfafnir, to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
Never argue with an idiot.

No translation needed, that was pretty darn direct!

This ultimate solution must have come from the bottom of Mimir’s well itself, because it’s also the answer to ALL of the other problems mentioned here. You can while away the hours of your day trying to correct stupid people on the internet, but a fool will never thank you for your trouble. All you’re going to get in return is grief.

The ANGRY-CAPS-LOCK-BERSERKERS aren’t going to listen to your reasoned explanation. Just say your piece and walk away.

The “Internet Expert” is convinced they know it all. Just drop your source, and walk away.

If you follow this one SIMPLE rule, most Trolls will never catch your scent. Those that do will find no drama to feed on, and will eventually move along to more tempting targets.

This lone verse, Stanza 122, holds the key to the internet itself!

Now, brave explorers of the internet, do you still believe the Lore can’t teach us about life in the modern age?

This concludes Odin’s Guide to the Internet 

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Missed Parts 1&2? Check them out!

10 Pieces of Practical Advice from the Hávamál (Part 1)

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10 Pieces of Practical Advice from the Hávamál (Part 2): How to Party Like a Viking!

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Wyrd Words is published on alternate Thursdays. Subscribe via RSS or e-mail!

About Alyxander Folmer

Alyxander Folmer is a student of Anthropology at ASU, focused on analyzing and building religious communities. He is a devoted Heathen, and married to a Rabbi in training. Interest in Pagan interfaith relations lead him to join the committee for the formation of the Pagan Chapter at the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, where he hopes to utilize his training in community building and cultural exchange. The majority of his work can be located at http://www.heathenhof.com/

  • Sarah Sadie

    Oh most excellent! I’m sharing this for sure. ;)

  • Ryan

    Simply brilliant!

    • Alyxander M Folmer

      Thanks

  • http://northernrunesradio.com Daniel

    Well done!

    • http://heathenhof.com Xander Folmer

      Thanks :)

  • Catriona McDonald

    This is so full of win. Odin gets +1 internet!

  • yewtree

    I always knew Odin knew about the internet.

    Just one ickle fing though – everyone assumes that their opponent in a trollish argument is an idiot. Though I guess it doesn’t matter who the idiot is, as long as the argument ceases.

    Oh and you forgot the xkcd cartoon, “Someone is wrong on the internet” :)


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