Awhile back, Copyblogger wrote a post called the 7 Deadly Sins of Blogging. I have been thinking about that post lately. I can’t tell if it’s because all of this talk about the world ending is getting to me or if it’s because I am seeing behavior online that is kind of making me feel the opposite of rapture. In either case, as it turns out, most of the behaviors driving me nuts in the world of Social Media can be tied quite tidily to one of the 7 Deadly Sins. Let’s explore, shall we?
Lust: Now in the traditional definition of the 7 Deadly Sins, lust is kind of picking up on the Ten Commandments admonishment about not lusting after other peoples’ spouses. While that is entirely relevant for society these days, the online world also sees lust of another sort – lusting after what is not possessed. This can be anything. I see people lusting after another person’s blog subscribers. I see people lusting after a person’s perceived power or influence. I see people lusting, even, after another person’s lust! Now that’s just crazy. Stay where you are. Drive in your lane. Strive for things, keep your eyes on the prize, and keep your hands and tweets to yourself!
Gluttony: There are two ways gluttony comes into play in the world of Social Media, and I’m guilty of one of them!
It’s extremely easy to position yourself as a glutton for punishment in the online world. There are people you keep making the same mistake with, or there are patterns of behavior you keep falling into without realizing it. I have learned that I give away my ideas too easily and it has come back to bite me on a couple of occasions. Why did it take more than one time?
Now gluttony also means over-indulgence. Where does that show up in the world of Social Media? Well, I would define it as a person who has achieved a level of success but wants more more more. There is no ceiling to their desires online. A successful e-book makes them want a successful something else, which makes them want something else. These are the folks who can never have too many friends, fans, or followers. These are also the folks who will never feel content, unfortunately.
Greed: There are a few different kinds of greed in the online world. The most basic kind is that some people charge outrageous prices for various products they offer. But more to the point, greed in Social Media is often about power and influence and how you get both. People who are greedy for online power will do all of the things that people greedy for money will do. They will put on a front to lure you in. They will say all of the right things. They will play games, working people against each other so that they can come out on top. These people are also seldom happy, because a) enough is never enough and b) there always seems to be someone who has more than you. When you’re greedy, it’s easy to spot those folks and much harder to spot the people who might be looking at you with awe and wonder.
Sloth: I know, it’s hard to believe that sloth is a problem in the world of Social Media. There are so many status updates about how tired people are, how they were up till 2, then awake at 5. The problem in a lot of cases though (and you may not like this) is that people simply don’t want to do the hard work it takes to make Social Media and or their job work. Folks like this will say, “I don’t have time to blog” but then they will live-tweet American Idol. Folks like this will say, “Ugh, creating products is so much work,” but then they spend hours trying to grow fake grapes in Farmville. Perhaps a 21st century revision of this particular sin would be poor time management. What do you think?
Acedia (your bonus sin of the day, but now often merged with sloth): Acedia is defined (according to Wikipedia) as apathetic listlessness. You know you’ve seen these folks in Social Media circles. My hypothesis is that greedy or gluttonous people are prime targets for this affliction. If you never have enough, how can you be happy? How can you be thankful? The best example of this that I can think of is that person (and I’m sure you know one) who says, “Ugh, I have so many followers/blog comments/Facebook fans I just can’t keep up.” You were working towards that goal though, and you keep trying to get more. Color me confused. I am thankful for every interaction I have everyday. Seriously. And guess what? If a day in Social Media world doesn’t go well, I’m still thankful for things like, I dunno, my health. My family. My new fish. Chocolate. How can you be apathetic in a world with chocolate??
Despair: Despair, unfortunately, seems to afflict those who are least affected by the other “sins.” People despair when they first start tweeting and nobody responds. People despair when they realize that that person they were talking to was actually just maneuvering them as part of the game of greed. People despair when they pour their soul into their blog only to hear crickets. I despair because so seldom do you see folks reaching out and trying to lift those despairing folks up. It’s really quite easy to do.
Wrath: Well, this one is easy to understand, isn’t it? There are all kinds of delicious wrath types in the world of Social Media. There are the people who turn their wrath into a precision laser beam geared at tearing you down. There are people who always have a “bone to pick.” There are people who like to create wrath in others (we call them trolls). Wrath seems like such a waste of Social Media, but I suppose we don’t get many opportunities to be a total jerk and not have to see the person’s facial expression.
Envy: My least favorite type of envy is the “I won’t admit it” type. There are a lot of people in the online world who take particular pleasure in ranting and raving about various groups of people. It might be an organization, it might be people who they perceive get more attention. They complain, they argue, but the whole time, what is really bothering them is that they aren’t a part of that group. Perhaps passive-aggressive behavior could be added to the Social Media version of this list, eh? 🙂
Pride: There is a particular brand of pride that floats about in the world of Social Media, and that is pride expressed via association. This is why I think a lot of people compare Social Media to high school, because, believe it or not, there are people who reach a certain pinnacle of success and then no longer have time for the people who they deem “under” them. Being “seen” with the right people is another form of pride, and it can extend from making sure a “big name” retweets your post to conversing with the “cool kids” at the exclusion of the lesser folk. Again, this is where despair enters for me!
So there you have it – the 7 Social Media sins. Are they really deadly? As of now, it seems not. But I hope that people will begin to look out for these characteristics and free of malice say, “Hey – snap out of it, man.” If you have time to tweet, your life is probably pretty good.
As we would say on Twitter, #justsayin.
1st Image by Jan Magne Sæther. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Orkanen
2nd Image by Marina Avila. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/donzeladef
3rd Image by Andrew Martin. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/imaspy