Social media is a relatively new entity. It seems to be evolving rapidly, almost monthly. For young people, like myself, it is likely the central focus of our lives. We focus so much on how others perceive us due to how social media platforms manipulate our developing minds. We need to please, impress, outdo. We have the mindset that we have to make ourselves stand out from the rest of the digital crowd. It's like a digital syringe that we can't help but keep injecting ourselves with. And, unfortunately, studies have shown that social media can lead many of its users to develop an "addiction" of sorts, compared to the likes of that of heroin.
So where do the Seven Deadly Sins part of this article come into play? Well, for those of you who aren't familiar, the Seven Deadly Sins is a Biblical teaching regarding how humanity can succumb to deterioration if we indulge in unhealthy "sins." These are pride, greed, lust, sloth, envy, gluttony, and wrath. These "sins" are often thought to be abuses or excessive versions of one's natural faculties or passions. Religious or not, this cautionary tale does raise a good point, particularly for today's times.
If you think about it, every single one of these "sins" is exhibited through our excessive use of social media. Allow me to explain:
We see pride all over social media. People usually don' t post unless they have something to brag about. Got a new car? Post it to Instagram. Got paid? Flash what you bought in your Snapchat. At the gym? Post a workout selfie. People use these digital platforms to often gloat about themselves, for why show anything else? It seems to be an endless competition of whose life is more glamorous, more interesting, more unique, etc.
Greed is exhibited quite often through our behaviors via social media. We want all the likes, the followers, the comments, the attention. We crave those notifications that someone has liked our Instagram photo like one would crave a drug. And when we don't have "enough" likes/followers/attention? We just keep posting, editing, or commenting until we get what we want. Horrifying when you think about it, isn't it?
Pretty obvious with this one. With filters and editing tools, people can make themselves look close to perfection online. Because of this, a guy/girl scrolling through Instagram, for instance, has the ability to like, screenshot, and even directly message dozens of people they find attractive. This poses an issue particularly for those in relationships. Many worry that their partner will cheat on them if they notice that he or she consistently likes the same person's pictures or only follows the stereotypical "hot" people. This primal emotion-lust can be detrimental to ever forming a meaningful relationship. Take it from apps like Tinder and Bumble, where people can scroll through thousands of "available" others, again getting that hit of dopamine whenever they get a match. "Why stop?" many think, "when I can just keep getting endless attention from endless attractive people?"
Sloth, or in other words, laziness, is for sure a factor exhibited by our overuse of social media. This applies to those who are "too lazy" to actually go and live the lives they exhibit online. Instead of working hard for the sake of working hard, these users will fake it as they likely don't have the patience to actually try. For instance, I'm sure we've all taken snapchats of our laptops at cafes next to our coffees, with a caption "study time" or whatever, but how much time do we actually spend studying instead of choosing the right filter/edit for that photo of our set-up? Or how about those workout posts? How many people do you think literally will dress in gym clothes just to get that perfect post-workout glam look without even breaking a sweat? Another way sloth is a factor of social media is how we now communicate with each other. We send short, quick texts or even an emoji to a friend, rather than calling them up or sending them a detailed, heartfelt message. We have become too lazy to wait, as we have been conditioned by the quick-pace of social media to expect everything immediately, and life just doesn't work that way.
Envy may be the most prevalent on social media out of all of these. I can almost guarantee that everyone with a social media account has felt envious of those they follow at some point. You see couples posting cute pictures, for instance, and feel jealous because you're single. You see someone's selfie and wish you could have their "flawless face," you see someone post about getting their dream job and feel pangs of envy course through your veins because you're still working that menial job you've had for years. You read an article about how a classmate got a full ride to an Ivy League college, the list can go on. The danger of envy impacts oneself more than it impacts those around them. Being jealous of someone won't hurt anyone but you. Unfortunately, social media bombards us with reasons to feel envious practically everytime we log on.
Gluttony is somewhat related to greed. It basically means you are ingesting more than you need. In terms of social media, we all certainly fall under the category of gluttons, as we are "ingesting" more screen time than we should be. We never feel "full," always craving more: more likes, more comments, more approval. It is an addiction many of us can never satiate. Unfortunately, unlike food, social media is never ceasing. There is no feeling of satisfaction and you never really know when enough of it is enough.
Wrath, or extreme anger, is most certainly prevalent on social media. For instance, this applies mostly to those who seem to spin out of control over people's shared opinions online, primarily when discussing politics or beliefs. I for the life of me can't even begin to count the number of times I've dealt with wrathful people via political posts all because they disagreed with me. Like, if you're really going to get so upset over one's opinion to the point that you word-vomit your hatred all over their post, you need to check yourself. And it's not even politics, it's opinions in general. Literally, anything can set people off these days. Internet wrath is real, and it's booming.
To think that the Seven Deadly Sins was originally meant as a tale of warning, now it's our reality. We are feeling the effects of these "sins" every day when we log into our social media accounts. These qualities are in no way religious, but human. Rather, the dark side of humanity. We could be using our spare time to do so much good, but instead, we spend it fueling these qualities that are doing nothing for us, all while worshipping the 21st century God that is social media.