The WordPress Daily Prompt for August 1 asks, “Remember the seven cardinal sins? You’re given the serious task of adding a new one to the list—another trait or behavior you find particularly unacceptable, for whatever reason. What’s sin #8 for you? Why?”
“Serious task”? Truly?
The seven cardinal sins, AKA “The Seven Deadly Sins” on most Most Wanted posters, are Pride, Greed, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth. “Poor Sloth,” a friend once said, “always trailing behind and coming in last on the list. If only he could speed up. There is nothing Sloth can’t do once he sets his mind to it.”
Any personal pique I may have against some irritating something I encounter during the day might find itself labeled as my eighth deadly sin—for that day, anyway—but me naming any personal irritation or pique as a Deadly Sin falls under Pride, doesn’t it?
Intellectual sloppiness, of the type that the internet does not encourage but certainly, in its eternally passive and continuous availability, allows to happen, that’s my biggest pet peeve. So is rudeness hidden behind the mask of anonymity. Comments on, well, any web site that allows comments (except this one, of course. Comments on WordPress sites generally and here on The Gad About Town specifically appear to be uniformly thoughtful and thought-provoking and supportive. It is why this blog is located in WordPress Land. Now of course someone is going to comment below with something along the lines of “Baba Booey!”) are almost always teeth-grindingly awful. I want to tape up the lower half of my computer screen, like my mom did with our television once: After that horrible day of 9/11, American news networks started scrolling news headlines at the bottom of our television screens—only breaking news headlines at first, because the news was coming in so quickly that the continuous scroll was required to get it all out, but then the scroll remained and they all have it all the time to this day, even some local news channels. My mother could not take it. It was too much. Shortly after 9/11, I came home to a television set with packing tape covering the lower portion of the screen, so she no longer felt so overwhelmed and dizzy from the unneeded movement on screen and unnecessary barrage of “Breaking News.”
I need to provide myself with a similar service for the section of comments below videos on YouTube and other web sites. I want to throw a protective layer of packing tape between me and much of the world. And Twitter: Too often you are a part of the problem and not the solution, also. How much dumb can be packed into 140 characters? Sometimes I am happily surprised by things on Twitter, but never by YouTube comments. That world is just a waste land of empty anger, accusations of anger, claims of superior anger, and rudeness.
Is it a sinful-level Pride in me to detest the inane and vague? When one friend posts a disprovable “Internet rumor” online and I attempt to correct it, I almost always regret making the attempt. I insist on gentleness in this task and write something about how this claim is seen online very frequently and that the frequency led me to check some things out and that the claim is just not correct. I have seen people offer rude and not-very gentle “corrections” online, but those merely use another sin: Anger. But, inevitably, the accusation comes that I am full of myself and a question is asked about which Global Institute of Knowing Things Correctly appointed me Head Fact Knower and Associate Checker?
The only thing I know to an expert level is that I know I do not know much, and that I like to look things up. I even found that I was relying too frequently, with too casual an ease about it, on Snopes.com, the famous debunker website. A friend wrote me, “Who has ever Snopes’ed Snopes.com? I hear it’s just some guy without training or anything.” (I never asked what training would be required besides enjoying looking things up.) But the website in fact has Snopes’ed itself and it is pretty open about its writers’ expertise: About Snopes. Other websites have interviewed the founders. The lesson for me was to be more rigorous. And trust Snopes, as far as internet rumors go.
It is odd that people claim to take seriously the idea that they must question authority (we must, definitely we must, question all authority, including our own), especially intellectual authority, so they will defend sloppy assertions over the debunking of these assertions, almost as if they see the sloppy assertion as a child being bullied by the mean truth. (I am withholding concrete examples of sloppy assertions and their corrections, because I do not want to give them the air to breathe.)
Rudeness masked by anonymity, a proud anti-intellectual streak masked by a falsely humble belief that one is an independent thinker, these are the peeviest of my pet peeves. Are they deadly sins, though? Do they meet that standard? I am no expert, but having been a pretty good achiever in my life in the other seven sins, I now do not like it when I encounter any of them.