How CB Radio Heralded the Futility of Online Discourse
CB Radio was the first widely popular set of tools for communication between cars on the road. This was before the advent of cell phones, personal communication devices, and even digital radios. The CB radio is a fascinating piece of technology, but it has been rendered somewhat obsolete by newer technologies due to its lack of privacy.
In the heyday of CB radio, people would troll through different channels, attempting to get the attention of someone who would agree with their point of view and take on a trolling conversation with them. This is known as a road argument, and they are extremely cutthroat.
No one is likely to agree with everything anyone has to say, so trolls would try to argue for hours about some point until they were able to get someone riled up enough. Once they were able to get riled up, they would stop arguing with them and instead focus their attacks on the other party’s car.
By CB’s peak in the 1970s, drivers and truckers had been using these radios for decades, but it wasn’t until the mid-to-late 1970s that they were adopted by the general public.
The major appeal of CBing, aside from the novelty of talking to people you didn’t know from a distance, was the fact that it provided an alternative to being at the mercy of your radio dial: If you wanted to hear a certain song or a specific channel, you could make it happen with a minimum of effort. Most importantly, if you wanted to block out your surroundings, you could.
People, mostly guys, would sit hunkered over their expensive transmitters while scanning channels until they got a hold of someone trying to communicate, and then they would broadcast garbage over the conversation. Aside from the limited range of CB units, this is perhaps one of the most overlooked drawbacks of CB radios.
Anyone will agree that it’s really irritating when you’re trying to communicate with a fellow driver, perhaps to get updates on the traffic ahead, but someone is deliberately interfering with your conversation just because they have access to the channel. And it’s no different from the trolls you find on your social media posts.
Fast-forward to the present era of smartphones and social media, and those who belong to off-road adventure clubs are encouraged to install cheap CB radios in their vehicles. Certainly, the CB trolls from the 70s have gone on to become the internet trolls of today, no?
Not really! Nowadays, RVers, truckers, and off-road travel enthusiasts will have their cars rigged with some of the best CB radios, top-of-the-range antennas, and even dash-mount external speakers.
They invest in all this equipment just to ensure they can stay in touch with fellow drivers when mobile phone signals are out of range. But while it is possible to communicate with others on CB radio over a distance of up to 30 miles, it doesn’t take long before some CB troll will find the channel one is communicating on and starts interrupting the conversation with gibberish transmissions.
Of course, some people will recommend using an app to emulate CB radio, but would the CB troll have used a smartphone app? So, for the same reason, there are no meaningful discussions on most social media sites, CB radio cannot be relied upon for reliable communication on the road.