Vikings Didn’t Seek Self-Validation through Social Media

Check out this ridiculous bullshit:

    Almveig Egilsdottir is milking the cows. Again.
    Thor’s Day at 0615

    Knut Bjørnsson is wondering why he bothered signing up for the
    plundringtåg in Frisia in the first place.
    Odin’s Day at 2258
            Inga Eriksdottir Oh no! Is everything ok? Miss you…:-/
            Odin’s Day at 2321
            Hrafn Bleary-eyes Dude, that sucks…come home wealthy.
            Odin’s Day at 2358

    Olafr the Sly just won two goats in a duel!
    Odin’s Day at 2033
            4 Norse people like this.
            Skeggi Ulfarsson is either of them lame with an injured thighbone? lol
            Odin’s Day at 2117

    Bjarki Granisson just earned a “Plow Master” blue ribbon for a hard day’s
    real work over at the real farm in Västervik!
    Odin’s Day at 1947

Poor formatting aside, it’s pretty fucking stupid, right? Of course it is. That’s because Vikings didn’t engage in gratuitously impersonal self-pandering to make themselves feel better about the hopeless futility of their lives. But that’s because Vikings didn’t live hopelessly futile lives. Their existences may have been full of poor dental hygiene and a propensity towards family feuding, but that sort of harshness lent itself well towards imbuing life with meaning. You actually had to do something useful to survive, and you didn’t do it in a massive, cog-in-the-wheel industrialized manner (which really only increases our current, modern-day sense of meaninglessness).

Take Almveig above, for example. She may not have been thrilled about milking the cows again (and, really, who can blame her?), but it’s likely that she would have achieved some sense of self-worth from having done this task. She’d be able to watch her family and friends consume the milk afterwards. That sense of immediate, tangible usefulness is something that no godforsaken Excel spreadsheet or Blackberry application can replicate. So it stands to reason that Almveig would have felt secure enough with her role in society to void any intense desire to whore out her status as a way of imbuing her life with false meaning, much less hope to receive some sort of digital feedback for that extra bit of self-validation. And besides, who really gives a shit that she’s milking cows right at this precise moment anyway? No one, except perhaps for those who are craving some attention of their own and choose to manifest that desire via a comment that attempts (and generally fails) to be witty.

However, that’s not to say that Vikings didn’t enjoy the glorification of their deeds. But the key word there is deeds, which is in direct opposition to trivial bullshit such as “watching house season premier!” No doubt Olafr would have felt some pride at winning a duel and would have likely wished for word of it to spread (and perhaps a skald would have even helped him out in that endeavor…skalds are totally badass, but that’s a tangent). Anyway Olafr himself would have likely only told people he actually communicated with personally on a regular basis, and let whatever gossip may arise stem from there. The medieval equivalent to an impersonal social media status update would have instead required him to go stand in the middle of the village or farmstead or whatever the instant the duel was over and scream at the top of his lungs about how he had won it and subsequently hope that people who were busy tilling the fields or forging metal in the smithy paid attention. And he would really, really want some of them to shout back comments of approval, or at least look over in his direction and give him a silent thumbs up.

But all of this circumnavigates the main issue mentioned earlier—that the lives of Vikings were actually worthwhile enough to not revolve around this sort of constant impersonal and pointless ego-fellatio. Regardless of the risks for early death (or perhaps because of them), Norse men and women lived lives that were imbued with clear and concrete purpose—from the not-so-glorious but essential duties of farming and shipbuilding to the very glorious epic battles of legend and lore. And really, when your life has that much purpose what would you care that everyone you’ve ever met might—through some sort of inhuman magical portal—read about and comment on what you’re doing right at this very instant? Not much, I suspect.

But it’s not like I’m some sort of high and mighty exception to this trend. This entire stupid website is proof of that. But while we’re on the topic of me, why don’t you check out my facebook or myspace pages and drop me a line? It’ll probably help me feel better about my pathetic self, and if you’re lucky it just might help you feel better about yourself, too.

Valhalla help us all.

Heraldry

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