The Luddites were a protest movement by workers during the Industrial Revolution, who expressed their objections to getting displaced by technology, industrialisation and capitalism by sabotaging or destroying machinery. With today's societies being decidedly better off the world over, Luddites can look rather silly, at least if one sees their objections being to machinery itself. A more accurate interpretation of their actions would be as protest of the way capitalists were using machines to deprive the (pre-union) workers of their livelihoods. In fact it can be argued that as the Luddites campaigned for unemployment compensation and re-training for those workers displaced by new machinery, they were amongst the most forward thinking and progressive people of the Industrial Revolution.
The movement was inadvertently started by an English "simpleton", Ned Ludd, who in 1782 destroyed some "stocking frames" (details upon requestwhere?), fearing the loss of his job. His name was subsequently applied to the "Luddite Riots" of 1812 to 1818.
 Modern use
The term is now commonly applied to those who object to industry and technology on environmentalist grounds, rather than economic self-interest.
One hopes that those who use the Internet as a medium to inveigh against technology are aware of the irony of doing so (q.v. anarcho-primitivists like John Zerzan and Derrick Jensen, who regard dispensing their precepts to a wide audience as more important than pointless personal purity; sort of using technology in a way that will quicken its disappearance). Otherwise, they've likely fallen into absurdity territory.
It is also a common meme for Paleoconservatives when they rail about the internet or other such nonsense.
 See also
- ↑ Magnusson, Magnus, general editor, Cambridge Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1990