Old Goat Gropes the Internet – Etiquette, Irony Trolls & Bottom Feeders

Many thanks to Richard Wilson for his wonderful articles filled with humour and comment to make you laugh and cry. Excellent observation of the human condition on this occasion.

Do you know any old goats?

See link below to Richards Fishrise page.


Even if you’ve never met Old Bodger in the flesh, you’ll know his ilk. In person, he’s socially awkward and his opinions are closely guarded. He’s also no spring chicken. The mullet went south years ago and the replacement comb-over is struggling.

But don’t be fooled: Old Bodger has secret superpowers.

At home, alone with his computer, he morphs into an Internet Warrior and owner of a snarling V8 hotrod (a relic, like Bodger, with far-distant echoes of the Beach Boys). Bathed in the blue light of his screen, he becomes a loud and proud throwback to a time when the world was a better place.

In his shaving mirror, Bodger sees a master of withering irony. A silken-tongued enforcer of online righteousness. This is odd because if there’s one thing Bodger can’t do, it’s the deft and gentle humour of irony. Subtlety is not his friend.

Instead, Bodger has two thrusting attributes: His rage against the modern world and his pride in his car, which is accumulating value at an astonishingly boastful rate. It’s a late ‘50s Barris-built Kandy-Kolored Streamline hotrod.

Of course it’s not all open road and wind in his hair. As we shall see, Bodger’s life is riddled with provocations, and the price of fuel is just first among many. And oh how Bodger rails against the cost of gas. It’s not fair, is it? If there’s one thing that really sets Bodger apart from most of us, it’s that he does outraged grievance with heavy-breathing ecstasy. His neighbours hear him pounding his keyboard late into the night.

There is, of course, a paradox in this. Despite the low-fi worldview, he’s spending a lot of time on the internet. Mostly on the arcane and genteel Vintage Split Cane Fly Rod Forum, where he stamps on heresy.

It is in his warrior DNA to wield his sword of truth and mightily slay imposters lurking on the VSCF-RF. You’d be shocked by what he finds there. Bodger stands proud against hordes of woke wussie, coal-hating, EV-owning, global warming, diet-Coke drinking, vaxing, barbless morons. It’s enough to make a warrior spill his coffee in foot-stamping rage (even his trouser stains are someone else’s fault).

What’s odd about this is that fishing etiquette matters a lot back in the real world. We all care about how we, and others, behave in person. Most of us can manage to listen politely to people we meet along the way while avoiding shit-talking with, or worse, at strangers. We try to be nice to each other, and mostly it works.

Somehow this all goes wrong online. Or, rather, it all goes wrong for Old Bodger and his scathing own-brand irony. Because when he calls someone a fracking nut-job, that’s ironic. Bodger also posts his irony in torrents. Which is OK because it’s all done for laughs: It’s full-frontal irony (I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to deal with that image).

So if we po-faced dullards worry he’s mired in twaddle, he tells us we’re numb-knucks who wouldn’t know irony if it hit us in the po-face with a broken bottle: Lighten up! FFS. This is usually flagged by multiple rictus grin emojis 🤣🤣🤣. So, obvs, it’s all hilariously funny. Geddit 🤣 idiot?

Bodger has a small posse of camp followers, all lost in the same drear-life crisis.

Collectively they muster the charm of 13-year-old schoolboys, clumping on the back seat of a bus and lost in the hilarity of farting noises made with clammy hands wedged in each others’ armpits. Tee-hee. Somehow this humour always fails to impress the other passengers. Which, if you’re 13, is why you do it.

They’re a heavily ironic crowd, with names like Curmudgeon, Farter, Whittler and, inexplicably, Blue VerruKa. You don’t know it, but they own you and you’re dancing to their tune. And just in case you’re wondering, ‘Owning’ people means: ‘I dunno what you’re talking about, but I bet I can really annoy you if I vomit on your carpet’. Ah, the delicious irony of it all.

The posse is so lost in their jokes-on-you irony that we must assume that Bodger has never read The First Rule of Goats. He should. It is succinct, if a little crude.

For readers unfamiliar with the Rule and who don’t like to see the word ‘fuck’ in print, I have substituted ‘grope’.

So, the (sanitised) First Rule of Goats says: If you grope a goat, even if you say you’re doing it ironically, you’re still a goat-groper. You don’t get off scot-free just because you say ‘I was only being ironic’.”

The corollary Rule to this is:

“If your rhetoric is all about goat-groping, even if you’re doing it ironically, you’re liable to attract a following of goat-gropers

And finally: A mint Kandy-Kolored Streamline built by the legendary George Barris is a special beast. An original would, you’d think, make Bodger’s home a magnet for well-heeled ‘50s car collectors. After all, the Barris Batmobile last sold for $4.2m.

Weirdly, nobody calls.

And that is ironic*.

*Poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended.

—- —- —- —-

Post Script: For more on the very real George Barris and the equally real Kandy-Kolored Streamline hot-rods, Tom Wolfe’s essay of almost the same name is a great read. Thanks also to Ken White for the First Rule of Goats.

Old Bodger, Curmudgeon, Farter, Whittler and Blue VerruKa are, of course, fictional characters.