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#a91 :: Magic starfish – How the Web feeds the seven deadly sins

May 15, 2008

ENLARGEI’m bench-testing this theory:

Everything on the Internet – every single human endeavor online – can be mapped against one or more of the seven deadly sins.

Too simplistic? Maybe not. Just consider the primary sins that we ever-so-weak mortals commit by running, pharmacy populating or using services like these:

Gaming? – Anger.
Celebrity news? Envy.
Porn? Heh. Lust, silly.
eCommerce and mass media? Basest greed.
Food and gadget sites – Gluttony, pure and simple.
Blogs? Social networking? art communities? Vanity, vanity, vanity.

… And finally, one thick, twisted vein of sin courses throughout all of the Web at any given time like a mother river: Sloth, the thief of lives.

Sloth keeps the unemployed fiddling with their MySpace pages instead of job-hunting.

Sloth drags a 2-minute lunchtime session of “I’m just surfing for a song lyric” into a 75-minute post-lunch Google-trawling expedition in search of “where-are-they-now” punk-band trivia.

Sloth rules us all – sapping our will to achieve and evolve, slumping our spines, thickening our waistlines and curving our agile, marvelous hands into mouse-cuddling claws.

As with all such axiomatic notions, of course, this web=sin theory immediately seems cartoonishly pat. Shoot me down, I dare you.

“Oh, sure, haha, very funny,” you’re bound to comment after finishing this piece – or this sentence. “Now here’s where you’re so wrong.” (So, are you angry? Or just vain?)

You may ask – and rightly so – what about humanitarian websites?

FreeRice.com lets kids put grains of rice into a virtual bowl by answering word-definition questions correctly, and then the U.N. World Food Program collects corresponding cash donations and buys sacks of rice to feed impoverished nations. Where’s the sin in that?

Well, the UN sells banner ads on the site to actually raise the money.

The resulting sins? Greed and vanity by the companies doing the advertising, and sloth by the kids who play (clicking a mouse is so much easier than reading or writing or doing something proactive to end world hunger).

How can wonderful Wikipedia be wrong – a fathomless and vital source of vetted information on the everything – from the simple and the complex, the deceptively obvious to the mystifyingly arcane? Everyone loves Wikipedia, right?

Well, vanity hides in the heart of all publishing, anger in the spleen of all editors: “Wrong. Wrong. Oh, God, so wrong,” says the crowd-sourced, self-appointed Wikipedia editor. “This is the truth, not that nonsense.”

Clickety-click, command-X and you’ve corrected that blithering idiot. Satan is pleased.

The smartest web publishers suck in the rubes with as many sins as possible so everyone can roll around together, noshing and fucking and screaming together because, hell, it’s fun.

Muckraking, truth-seeking political blogs tap anger and vanity

Friends’ links to sweet-naturedly innocent cheesecake shots launch a hundred-click hunt for understanding of the frightening coprophagia fetish video that popped in an AdSense text-ad, and probably a ridiculous temporary boost in your libido to boot.

Quick checks on movie times or book titles devolve into hours of free-associatin’, trivia-gamin’,cock-wavin’ one-upmanship on science-fiction films of the silent era and toy-geekery – a three-way vanity/gluttony/envy fest lubricated by buckets of link-swapping drool.

Sin is fun.

So why should you give a troll’s fuck about some self-important clown bloviating on a blog about how eeevil the web is when measured by the artificial dogma of an overly powerful, hypocritical and repressive Christian religion?

Because this bloviating clown worries about all of our polluted souls. Deeply.

Here’s the real sin: Maybe we just want to kill time before it kills us.

We tell ourselves this little lie that by staying wired we grow smarter. We tread the shining path of righteousness. We grow the collective intellect of our marvelous human race.

Aaah, bullshit.

That’s just the slick rationalization you hand yourself while vainly Twittering long past your bedtime about the cool video that you just found before anyone else, which automatically makes you cooler than them.

Slapping up new animated gifs and saying “yo” to your peeps on MySpace, you have to buy into it: This ephemeral economy of raw ideas and suspect “truth” and sticky diversions is truly a meaningful way to spend your time – that precious commodity, of which you have absolutely no meaningful measure.

And before you know it, you’ve sinned half your life away in the coruscating glare of a video monitor, you’re 20 pounds heavier, your hard drive is full of PDFs and MP3s and videos, your inbox is full of Texas hold-em poker spam and your keyboard is full of Dorito crumbs.

You’ve accomplished nothing.

So let me dedicate this nubbly orange Heavy Little Object – (on my unabashedly vanity-fueled blog) – to the seven deadly sins:

It’s a 2-1/1-inch-diameter plastic starfish that swells to eight inches across after you dunk it in water for a week.

It fucks with your notion of time and physics. It devours your attention. It makes you yearn to touch it, revel in controlling its behavior, think (perhaps) of alien sex.

And finally, it pisses you off when you realize how much time you wasted watching the hideously compelling thing grow when you could have been doing something more productive with your time.

There – and here, at the end of this post – go precious minutes that you’ll never recover.

Angry yet? Good. The Web is achieving at least one seventh of its potential in your life. Might as well topple and fill in the other six.

Now go forth and sin some more!

Filed under: Fetish, Jetsam, Life form, Model, Part, symbol, Toy | Comments (0)

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