Sinners? Amen, Brother Gibbs!

Sinners! That’s what we are. Brothers and sisters, we are all sinners and do you know what is making us even more sinful? The Internet! (Let me hear you say, “Amen.”)

Now I don’t just mean regular sinning. After all, who cares if you surf with one hand while looking for “novel” pictures of Britney Spears. (Let me hear you say, “Hallelujah!”)

At least theologically, who gives a damn if you spam? (Let me hear you say, “We do! String ’em up!”)

No, brothers and sisters, I am talking about the Big Seven! The Seven Deadly Sins are alive and well and being fostered by the Internet.

Now let me just remind you what the Big Seven are: Pride (otherwise known as Vanity or Hubris), Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger (or Wrath), Covetousness (aka Greed) and Sloth.

Let’s start with Pride: The excessive belief in one’s own abilities, also referred to as the sin from which all others arise.

Here’s a sin so commonplace on the ‘net that it defies belief. (Let me hear you say, “I don’t believe it!”)

For example, just consider those me-too pet food Web sites that were funded with tens of millions of dollars and, despite collecting eyeballs by the truckload, will never show a profit.

I can think of a couple of these dot-coms with sites that look like crap but whose CEOs are still making it sound like they are saving the world. There’s Pride for you.

Envy: The desire for others’ traits, status, abilities or situation, is everywhere on the ‘net. Everyone wants to be a ‘net god, a Kibo, or to become one of the big boys of the business and to have the power to make and break deals. (Let me hear you say, “That deal has got legs! If we can get traction with the venture capitalists and runway in the market we can rule the ‘net!”)

Gluttony: An inordinate desire to consume more than one requires. This is also called the Napster sin because so many Napster Inc. users acquire more music than they can listen to in a dozen incarnations.

Lust: An inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body, which brings us back to Britney Spears. (Let me hear you say, “Oh, give us a break!”)

Anger: Manifested in all sorts of ‘net scenarios and nowhere more so than in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury. Just consider anger as triggered by our desire for instant gratification as fostered by the ‘net.

The concept of instant gratification became a key theme of the 20 th century and not without reason. As Western society has accelerated its pace in the last half of the century and broadened its communication abilities, the drive to get what we want, when we want it has become a cornerstone of how we determine if we are satisfied by products, services and personal interactions. (Let me hear you say, “Needless philosophizing!”)

So if our gratification appears later than some arbitrary time threshold we think appropriate-a threshold that gets ever shorter on the Internet-we bitch and moan endlessly. Voila! Anger.

Covetousness: The desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. Hell, this is what drives the ‘net economy! See that guy? He’s a dot-com millionaire! What’s he got that I haven’t? Pure luck, that’s what. I could be a dot-commie too ’cause I’m loaded with ability (see Pride), etc., etc.

Finally, there’s Sloth: the avoidance of physical or spiritual work. Isn’t that what dot-coms are all about? Who wants to dig a ditch, for heaven’s sake? (Let me hear you say, “IPO!”)

Gibbs is a contributing editor at Network World (US). He is at [email protected]

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