The seven deadly sins in social media

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ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

IT sometimes helps to be able to laugh at one’s own mistakes. It is cathartic.

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But even more cleansing is the ability to be self-reflexive and critical, and to recognize one’s own flaws and follies. This is not only humbling, but is also more in tune with our sense of humanity, as moral and ethical beings.

Social media has been at the forefront of the public discourse, due to the #CocoyGate scandal and its aftermath where instead of the anonymous accounts responsible for maligning the seven senators who were made the focus, it was the pro-Duterte bloggers who took the hot seat and were taken to task. What was effectively painted by the anti-social media sentiment prevailing among traditional media and the political opposition was that social media, particularly the pro-Duterte bloggers, lack accountability and enjoy so much privilege. I have already debunked this as a lie.

But what is unfortunate and saddening is that the hearings on #CocoyGate conducted by Sen. Grace Poe also caused a rift among some prominent pro-Duterte bloggers and social media influencers.

We in the social media universe have to seriously reflect on the direction in which we are being taken by our passion and commitment to articulate our political opinions. This is now the time where we have to gaze at our own navels, or look at our own images in a mirror, and assess ourselves and our conduct.

And this is a task that should be done by all in social media, regardless of political color and affiliation, whether we are anonymous or not.

The #CocoyGate controversy was triggered when the anonymous bloggerSilent No More attacked the senators who were unable to sign the petition circulated by the opposition Liberal Party, through its leader Sen. Francis Pangilinan. PinoyAko Blog later referred to the senators as the “seven deadly sens,” detailing their corresponding sins based on the seven deadly sins enumerated in Catholic catechism.

I do not mean to start a new controversy, but I am of the belief that social media bloggers and enablers can also commit these seven deadly sins.

Some may be guilty of the sin of lust, not necessarily for sex, but for the pleasures associated with fame and attention, and even for the power of being able to command hundreds, if not thousands, of followers, some of whom can be consumed by blind idolatry. They are guilty of this sin if they relish the power of being the object of such idolatry, that they keep track of the number of likes and engagements of their posts, and then openly flaunt this. These are the typical famewhores.

The sin of gluttony, while associated with overindulgence in food, can also translate into selfishness, where one places importance on self-interest, instead of the interest of others. A social media blogger or influencer, who knowingly promotes his or her selfish interest, even if it means destroying the reputation of others, may technically be a glutton. One who will sacrifice friendships in order to feed his or her ego is as guilty of thesin of gluttony.

The sin of greed is the rapacious desire for material possessions, even if it means committing illegal or unethical acts. This is a sin committed by social media bloggers who peddle their services as paid hacks, or paid trolls, usually using anonymity as their shield. In exchange for money, they profit from libeling others.

Motivated by their own desire for monetary comfort, they become instrumental in the destruction of reputations.
And then you have the lazy social media bloggers and enablers who are contented propagating fake news, or copy-pasting the opinion of others. Not being able to generate original material or conduct their own research, they either appropriate the work of others or share false information. Theseplagiarists or propagators of fake news are guilty of the sin of sloth.

And then you have the angry social media blogger who is guilty of the sin of wrath. It is easy to detect them. These are the ones who rant incessantly, and who make it a point to have expletives and cuss words in their posts. They are consumed by their hatred towards the object of their anger, be it the President or other political figures, or even issues in general. Their posts ooze with curses and negative vibes that reading them can easily make one feel like being battered.

We also have social media bloggers who may be full of envy in their hearts. These are the bloggers who look on other bloggers either as threats or as competitors. They do not share or like other people’s posts. They also never make a comment to affirm another blogger’s brilliant post, or exclusive revelation. They are not happy if one makes a scoop, and worse, they even engage in backbiting others to promote themselves.

Finally, we may also have social media bloggers who are consumed by the sin of pride or hubris. These are the bloggers who are so full of themselves, that they think they are God’s gift to social media. They behave like they just descended from Mt. Olympus, and pride themselves on being on a messianic mission to rescue our country from evil politicians, or even from ourselves. They derive sheer pleasure from being the center of attention in being able to command a strong following from the public.

These seven sins are flaws which many of us in social media are prone to commit.

We should all be careful not to be consumed by lust for fame and power, selfishness, greed, sloth, anger, envy and pride. A failure to rein in our own frailties can turn social media into a dark political landscape that can prove to be our undoing, and may consume and destroy not only ourselves, but also the public that reads us and even our country.

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