Future Tech

Luddites Attacking? Being A Techie Could Be Dangerous

Ryan Dube 19-11-2014

An odd humming sound comes from the sky. You look up and spot a drone, hovering there with the camera pointed right down at you. What would you do?


What if it wasn’t a drone? What if you were sunbathing on the beach and noticed some guy walking along wearing a Google Glass headset, obviously recording everyone? Would that make you angry? What about someone checking Facebook on their smartphone during a movie? Taking a call during dinner? Would these things make you angry enough to attack someone?

Believe it or not, all of these latest technologies — and how people are using them — have led to real violence.

In this article, I’m going to share three shocking stories where people have attacked gadget loving techies. Are these anti-technology Luddites with anger issues, or justified privacy-rights activists?

Don’t Fly That Drone Over Me!

In October, we asked all of you what you would do A Drone Hovers Over Your Property: What Would You Do? [We Ask You] There's a very real prospect of someone flying a drone around your neighborhood. But what would you do if it hovered over your property? Read More if you spotted a drone hovering over your property. The majority of you said, without hesitation, that you’d shoot that sucker right out of the air.

Dave Parrack was pretty shocked at how violent most readers were! Is that the exception or the rule? Well if events in Connecticut during the Spring were any indication, it’s the rule.


17 year old Austin Haughwout made the mistake of flying his quadcopter drone over Hammonasset State Park in Madison, Connecticut. Part of the flight route involved cruising over the beach along the edge of the park. The scenery he caught during the flight was actually pretty cool.

The one thing Austin didn’t plan on was getting assaulted by 23 year old Andrea Mears, because she assumed the only reason he was flying the drone over the beach was to zoom in on her stunningly gorgeous body (why else would a 17 year old boy fly a drone over a beach, am-I-right?)

After confronting Austin about the drone and accusing him of “taking close ups of people in bikinis”, she called the police. Shortly after hanging up with the dispatcher, the 23 year old began punching and scratching the teenager, pinning him to the ground and ripping his shirt. She could be heard calling him a “little pervert” and saying, “I’m gonna break your nose off.”  He could be seen grimacing in pain and screaming, “stop assaulting me!” on the recorded video he was taking of the entire event.

The irony is that the cops almost arrested the boy based on the woman’s story that he had assaulted her. It wasn’t until he pulled out his secret weapon — the video of the entire assault — that police finally arrested the woman.


Turn Off Your Google Glass, Please

Think Google Glass headsets 10 Of The Best Google Glass Videos Shot So Far Google Glass may or may not change the world. It's really too early to tell. However, Google Glass is certainly an innovative new product with the capacity to change our idea of mobile devices. It's... Read More are innocent fun? Well,  you may want to think again before heading out on the town wearing one.

In February, one woman was literally attacked in a San Francisco bar for wearing one. It happened at a bar called Molotov’s, when tech writer Sarah Slocum made the mistake of showing someone there how the headset works. Before long, two women — apparently paranoid about being videotaped with the headset, got angry with Sarah for using it in public. The disagreement reached a low when one man ripped the Google Glass right off Sarah’s face and walked out of the bar.

Sarah posted a video on YouTube about the attack, ultimately proving that the people who were upset were right, she really was recording video of people inside the bar.

Things turned into a fracas when Sarah followed the man outside of the bar and he insulted her. Another man defended Sarah by punching him. When it was all over, Sarah’s YouTube video led to a whole debate about whether she had any right wearing the Glasses in a bar that one man told CBS news, is frequented by patrons not very welcoming to high technology.


“I think everybody was just upset that she would be recording outside of a bar this late with obvious embarrassing behavior going on. And just rather insulted that someone thinks it’s okay to record them the entire time they’re in public.”

Sarah posted to her Facebook page that she had just been, “verbally and physically assaulted and robbed [someone took her purse and phone while she was outside] last night in the city.”

Should Sarah have been slightly more tactful with her use of Google Glass in public? Were the patrons justified in forcing her to put the headset away, or should anyone have the right to use whatever technology they want to use when they’re in public? These are the sorts of social problems that are rising out of the increased adoption of these small and convenient forms of public surveillance.

Theater Cellphone Use Is Bad For Your Health

Probably the worst example of anti-technology Luddite violence was the fatal theater shooting in January of 2014 that took place in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Yes, Americans are known for their love of guns Here's What Happens When Guns and Computers Collide In the long-running debate about gun control legislation, guns have been characterized as "dumb" tools. But technology is making guns a lot more intelligent. Read More , but this story even had the most ardent gun-supporter flinching.


It happened during a matinee showing of the movie “Lone Survivor”, when 43 year old Chad Oulson decided to text his daughter during the movie.

71 year old retired police officer Curtis Reeves complained directly to the man, who in turn defended his right to text. The argument lasted for a while, with Reeves attempting to complain to a manager, without any luck. When he returned, the arguing continued, and reached a climax when Oulson threw popcorn at Reeves, who then immediately pulled out a pistol and shot him.

Reeves now stands charged with second-degree murder. As of right now, the pre-trial hearings are still taking place, with an estimated trial date of March of 2015.

Setting aside the issue of guns in America and gun violence, what is it exactly about texting in a movie theater that gets people so riled up? Sometimes it seems as though the anger against tech-users in this case surpasses the level of the “crime”. I once wrote an article about how to check your phone or text in a movie theater 5 Non-Annoying Ways to Check Your Smartphone in the Movie Theater What are the three most annoying behaviors in the world? People who interrupt. People who don't allow you to merge into traffic. People who use their smartphone in the movie theater. Read More without bothering people around you, the comments there were very telling about the two sides — the techie and the Luddite.

Jim B commented:

“It doesn’t matter what you do to hide the light from your phone, it always lights up the face of the person that uses it. It’s distracting, It’s inconsiderate and It’s rude.”

To which Tim B responded:

“And…if you can’t stand someone’s phone light three rows in front of you…then get a life. It’s a movie, not your kid’s birth. Last movie I was at, I heard bags crinkling, a baby crying, and people talking. Did it affect my viewing experience? No.”

What it seems to come down to is a level of comfort a person has with the extent to which people use technology. On the one extreme you’ve got a guy like my buddy Justin, who refuses to own a smartphone Why This Technology Blogger Does Not Own a Smartphone [Opinion] "Do you have a smartphone yet?" It's a question my friends ask often, and it's a reasonable one to ask. I make my entire living writing about technology, explaining how to use software and interviewing... Read More , lamenting about the loss of personal connections and relationships due to the devices.  On the flip side you’ve got Erez, who openly admits he checks his email constantly Why Smartphones Are Awesome: The Case For Checking Email All The Time A few weeks ago, we had a post published where Yaara wrote why she thinks many people use smartphones way too much, and why they may not be all that great. While many of Yaara’s... Read More , at odds times throughout the day, and he’s quite proud of it.

So, is the violence of a woman on the beach against a boy enjoying his brand new drone, or the fatal attack of a man against another text-happy movie goer simple a clash between these two extremes? Are these the growing pains of a society inevitably heading into a new world almost completely powered by technology? When can techies ever be safe, or will Luddites always be a threat?

Are you tech-obnoxious techie, or an angry Luddite? Let’s chat about this in the comments below.

Image Credits: Hands Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Drone Technology, Google Glass.

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  1. john
    February 8, 2015 at 7:04 am

    Name calling… because when you can’t defeat your opposition’s lucid and coherent argument, you can always try to nullify it by attacking the individual’s character. The pejorative Luddite is similar to the pejorative socialist; it doesn’t mean what you think it means. I would never be ashamed of being called either. The Luddites were not afraid of new technology, they were afraid and justly so, of the real life consequences that technology would have on the quality of their lives when used by nefarious people. In the case of the real life luddites, they were fighting the use of a technology that could be used to significantly lower their standard of living while disproportionately enriching the already rich captains of the industrial revolution. Those of us fighting to have drones banned, and they will be, are fighting to preserve the quality of our lives. It is not surprising that a generation of people who feel the need to broadcast every banal detail of their existence online have difficulty understanding the concept of respect and personal boundaries offline. Noise, invasion of privacy (which for mature and rational people does not disappear when you step outside) and the danger to people, wildlife and personal property are all valid and justifiable reasons to ban drones. I ask you, how many drones are acceptle at a children’s playground, a beach, a wedding, a funeral….? To me the answer is none for all the reasons I listed. For you who think its ok to easdrop on others and photograph them without consent and to put your entertainment before the safety of others, how many drones are too many drones at your favorite places of recreation? For everything we gain, we must necessarily lose something else. The entertainment of a few is not worth the cost of the privacy, safety and peace of the public.

  2. Peter from Brisbin
    January 6, 2015 at 12:52 am

    I am amused by the argument of no video while i am in public. In every large town in Australia there are video cameras in public spaces. Not one or two cheap cameras, but high end high definition, tracking and zoom. In London I counted 40 cameras of high end quality while standing on a street corner! Every large retail outlet, most bars, airports, trains, buses, taxis, aircraft, elevators. There are live camera feeds on popular beaches, police have body cameras (when they remember to turn them on) we drive around with dash mounted crash cameras. They are in the lecture rooms i teach in, making it safe for me against false claims of inappropriate behavior. Have you seen the excellent sunglasses with the pinhole video cameras? In the UK there is 1 surveillance camera for every 11 people! Lower Manhattan has over 6000 cameras.

    And then there are speed cameras, red light cameras, rail-crossing cameras. But don't forget the private security cameras. A recent study of surveillance cameras in large metropolitan precincts estimate that you will appear at least once every day. And the new reasonably secret low angle cameras now appearing to get the face of the hoddie user. they have a set focus of two metres so any closer and the camera blurs. The face recognition software is about 1000 times better than that found in Google Picasa and a considerable number of law enforcement agencies upload to a world data base. It is too late to start complaining about surveillance.

  3. Tinkicker
    November 21, 2014 at 4:19 am

    I'm by no means a Luddite. I own more computers and devices for the sheer love of technology than anyone could need. But like a poster above, I don't have to be a Luddite to think that the prevalent culture in America is based on, "me first and who cares about anybody else". What the heck ever happened to politeness and consideration of others and manners? Is good conduct just too old-fashioned? If you think so, then you're a Luddite of another kind.
    Every theater I've been to asks people to be polite and not use their phones during the movie. How hard is that to get? It appears to be equivalent to asking a smoker to quit cold turkey or asking an addict to just fuggitabout drugs. Some people just can NOT refrain from using a device, even when asked...they're addicts.
    Personally, when I buy a typically overpriced movie ticket, I'm expecting to be able to see it uninterrupted by jerks. Theaters might want to toss that factor into their brainstorming sessions when they're wondering why ticket sales are down. Some people just don't enjoy going into a theater to get away from the "real world" for a little while, and then being surrounded by the real world.
    A fantastic selling point for me at a theater would be a large banner proclaiming, "Cellphone-free viewing".
    As far as people recording me in public without my consent...not ever going to be right. My privacy is just that...mine. You can't have it.

  4. Buffet
    November 20, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Record me - GET HURT!

  5. Jolls
    November 20, 2014 at 4:39 am

    First a little about me. I am a cheap techie. I love technology but don't buy much of it. I would NOT shoot down a drone that was hovering over my property, unless I felt that I had a justifiable enough reason to explain to the owner without feeling ashamed about why I shot it down. But then again, that's pretty much how I feel about any possible violent action. If I can't justify it to the person I'm committing violence against, well then, violence probably isn't the answer.

    Secondly, the violent people in the article are absolutely nuts. We have a right to privacy, sure. But that is a right to what we make private, like our sex life, our data, our thoughts, private things. But we don't have a right to privacy for what is publicly displayed. Frankly, anyone who wears a bikini in public does not have a right to forbid people from looking at them and recording a memory of their supposed hotness in our craniums, nor do they have a right to forbid someone from recording a memory in a SD card.

    EVEN IF they did have the ethical right to privacy of things publicly displayed, the most that ethically they'd be allowed to do is to require of the person to delete picture/videos, or prove that no picture of them exists. and that's a stretch. But to commit the violence shown above? That's more barbaric then cutting off a thief's hands.

  6. dragonmouth
    November 20, 2014 at 12:41 am

    So is it your contention, Ryan, that we should give up the last shreds of privacy just to satisfy the bleeding edge technology freaks? When you come right down to it, what is the difference between some kid flying a drone for whatever reason and the NSA flying drones over your house?

    There are laws against taking someone's picture(s) without their consent. If Ms. Slocum walked into the bar with a TV or a movie camera, before she started recording, she would have had to obtain everyone's permission. Just because Google Glass records surreptitiously and she is a tech writer does that put her above the law?

    The idiot who insisted on texting in the middle of a film was an arrogant prick. Mr. Reeves overreacted but Mr.Oulson deserved to be thrown out of the movie theater.

    The three examples you cited are not about Luddites vs the tech savvy. They are about manners and common courtesy. It seems that as technology brings us more and more gadgets, people have less and less manners and are less and less courteous. With more technology available to them, people have become more and more arrogant, self-centered and feel more entitled.

    Why do cell-phone owners feel entitled to carry on their conversations in loud voice? Why do they feel entitled to receive calls whenever and wherever, be it church, school, theater or the toilet?

    • adam
      November 20, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      I don't think you understand how the laws work. In general, no, you don't need permission to take someone's picture if they are in a public place. And yes, a bar is a public place.

      You will need permission if you plan to use the images commercially.

      Recording video is different, but generally only because you are capturing the audio as well, and that can get you in trouble with our archaic wiretapping laws, though again, you can generally record in a public place with no problem.

  7. Greg Degama
    November 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    This article is far and beyond SPOT ON conceringing society and how THEY have becone so perpetualy "tech drunk." You're missing an incredible amount of life folks with your collective inconsiderate methods towards those around you who have better things to do all day...than interact with a smart phone.

    • Matty S
      November 20, 2014 at 6:56 am

      So you weren't using a device with auto correct to post this. Just bad spelling then....