Let me tell you a little anecdote, one perhaps not known to many. A few years ago, the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, explained his theory on the success of social networks:
“Social networks do best when they tap into one of the seven deadly sins. Facebook is ego. Zynga is sloth. LinkedIn is greed.”
I don’t think Hoffman was just joking around. Social media have become in fact a true reflection of our characters, our personalities and above all, a realistic representation of our vices and defects. In short, you could say "Tell me which social networks you use and I’ll tell you who you are”.
Here we’ve tried to connect the user profile of various social networks to each of the seven deadly sins. Not only will it be fun to try identify each with one or more sins, but it might result in some reflection and even some gentle self criticism. Happy reading!
What is social media sloth? It is the idle user who vegetates for several hours a day going from one social network to another, almost fading away in front of the flat screen of the PC.
This is their idea of rest and relaxation. They’re always late for everything, but if you call them out for it, they’ll tell you, with breathlessness and irritation, that their days are more complicated than you could possibly imagine.
So which social network embodies sloth? It has to be Zynga, the company that produces and releases video games for the internet as Farmville and CityVille. Who among us, at least once, has not tried out of curiosity one of these addictive games where virtual candy and fruit is won to be then transformed into credits to continue playing for hours, immobile on the couch in front of a tablet?
A glutton on social networks is the user who, like a child in front of a jam jar, is overcome by impulses and unable to control himself. They can’t resist the urge to pick up the smartphone every two minutes to see if there are notifications or updates to check, photos to take and posts to be made. The final result? A terrible stomach ache, a real digital indigestion, which can only be treated with a digital detox.
The glutton is definitely represented by Instagram, the social network that allows users to take pictures, apply filters, and share them across other networks. In theory its all good fun and doesn’t harm anybody. But the problem is when you let yourself get carried away with too much temptation to take pictures and post them everywhere, in the grip of a veracious and insatiable desire to post pictures. It is then that the sin of gluttony slowly emerges.
Who is gripped by pride on social media? Let’s face it – not particularly nice people. Vain like no one else, they don’t read the messages written by other users but will happily reread their own. They constantly assess with careful attention their social media influence in narcissistic manner and and pay close attention to their social media interactions measuring the sucess of posts and status updates.
They are over the moon when they see that their utterances are shared and commented upon by others as if they were pearls of wisdom. They are also obsessed with their image, and change their profile picture roughly every 48 hours.
Here the choice is simple: Facebook. Among all the social network it is undoubtedly the one that stimulates our sense of pride, tickles our egos and our vanity, as does Snapchat, the new app popular among young people, which is based on photos and videos.
The proud are continuously motivated to display photos where everyone is beautiful, smiling, in perfect shape and perpetually on vacation. They post selfies and other continuous ploys designed specifically to accrue more ‘likes’ and signs of approval. Displaying themselves as they aren’t really is the norm. In these cases, the danger is believing that real life is what we read in status updates and on Facebook posts, and in believing that our friends are really happy and lucky just because they have posted an album of 100 photos... minutes after returning home from a vacation.
Who is lustful on social networks? It is the user obsessed with checking out the profiles and images of others or seeking new opportunities for rendevous and relationships. It is those who are continuously and frenetically in pursuit of the trifeca "Friendship request - I like - follow", hoping to tap into and achieve new social relationships, support and admiration. Of all users, they are perhaps the weakest and most held at captive by social networks, in that they lack a genuinely satisfactory real life.
Among all the social media, Tinder embodies lust the best. In fact, Tinder is a mobile app with a clear and single objective: to facilitate appointments and meetings with people within a user surroundings, thanks to geolocation with GPS. From the user's location, the application creates a large circle from within which other users are chosen on the basis of age and gender, and which users can decide to contact and meet.
Who is greedy on social media? Its the user that – opposite to those that are proud - never share information. At most derive profit from those of others. They devour the computer screen checking out the profiles of other users. They blend into social networks but do not reveal themselves. They secretly immerse themselves into daily affairs, capturing and recording everything, but are careful not to comment or interacting. They believe that others lack a sense of decency and do not understand how anyone could be so reckless with their information in that way.
Zuckerberg may not admit it, but Facebook may be guilty of this.
The envious on social media is the user who suffer seeing all these people radiating happiness or on dream holidays. The continuous self-promotion of their friends on social media drive them crazy and comment compulsively and hysterically about the posts and status updates of others.
Let's face it. Envy is a vice that touches all social media. A recent American study says that the happy and extremely idealized representations of private lives on social networks (such as posting holiday snaps), arouse strong feelings of envy and a distorted view of reality, which suggest that the lives of others are always happier and more successful than ones’ own.
It’s the perpetually angry user, hot headed and with little irony or sense of humor. They are always quick to share news about alleged conspiracies, scandals and machinations, highlighted with the peremptory "To be shared! Important, absurd, beyond belief! ".
Continuous protest and quick insults are their daily bread. Tips: avoid at all costs your inclusion on their wall of friends.
Wrath is anger expressed with words and deeds. Among all the social networks, Twitter represents this vice the best. Who among us, at least once, did not write a tweet to express their anger, disgust or dissatisfaction, rather than hiding our disappointments, inadequacies and frustrations? The tweet is the ideal way to express all our hot emotions, thoughts still not well thought out and made shiny by the light of reason.
The wrathful on social media never miss a chance to rail against everything and everyone, expressing their disapproval of this or that. They will not express all their negative emotions in public. But throw on a mask and they go on the attack - not sparing anybody.
And so to conclude - yes, there are many temptations on the web. The most dangerous are always those which we underestimate and which we do not know. But if, while surfing the web, we are able to recognize one of these seven deadly sins, we have already done half the work and are on the right track. As Kierkegaard said, "irony is the sure eye that knows how to capture the wrong, the absurd, the vanity of existence"