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A Fable for the Internet

“The Kid and the Wolf” by Aesop

A frisky young Kid had been left by the herdsman on the thatched roof of a sheep shelter to keep him out of harm’s way. The Kid was browsing near the edge of the roof, when he spied a Wolf and began to jeer at him, making faces and abusing him to his heart’s content.

“I hear you,” said the Wolf, “and I haven’t the least grudge against you for what you say or do. When you are up there it is the roof that’s talking, not you.”

You could re-write this fable in a thousand ways to illustrate our own day. Here’s one option:

A frisky young Troll had been left by his parents on the internet to keep him distracted and out of trouble. The Troll was browsing near the edge of civility, when he spied a Human and began to jeer at him, posting crass gestures and abusing him to his heart’s content.

“I see your posts,” said the Human, “and I haven’t the least grudge against you for what you say or do. When you are online it is the keyboard talking, not you.”

I suppose two morals could apply, one for the Kid and one for the Wolf, or one for the Troll and one for the Human. To the Kid or Troll, we might supply the moral: “Do not say behind the cover of safety what you would not say without it.” To the Wolf or the Human, we might supply the moral: “Do not take offense at the words of the unnecessarily brash.”

Aesop doesn’t often give us a wise or just wolf in his fables. This, however, may be one instance where you should be the wolf.

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