Review: Social Media & The Seven Deadly Sins: A stunning critique of what went wrong

Book cover of Social Media & The Seven Deadly Sins

I am not a competent authority on using social media. I am no gamer. Indeed I haven’t played a computer game in my life. Yet I do worry as a journalist about the effect of social media on our lives. How it created a super rich elite, how people’s personal data can be manipulated for huge financial gain, how ” fake news” can spread in an instant and how democracy can be destroyed by dark forces on line.

This is a remarkable, well written first book. Its author, Rory Wilmer, is an insider who has made money from digital marketing and advertising for big companies. As he says himself: “I have got to a moral crossroads within myself… I too, have been part of – making a living and a career on the back of surveillance capitalism, data mining and the exploitation of people’s addiction to social media”.

He points out how we, the avid consumers of social media, who never read the terms and conditions of the websites we sign up to – submit to exploitation by allowing companies to make huge profits by “leeching your data and selling it to the highest bidder”. They do this by using clauses allowing them to change the terms and conditions without” even informing you of why and how.”

How an atheist takes a Biblical script

The book is cleverly constructed taking, as an atheist, a Biblical script of the Seven Deadly Sins and dividing the faults of social media between them.

His chapter on lust – reveals the scale of a male dominated internet – and how pornography and sexual titualation. is rife. Put one search for girls on Instagram – and you will find 8 million images of girls. Put one for boys – and you get 2 million images. Everyday 95 million images are loaded onto Instagram – that is 4 million an hour.

He cites Twitter as a site that allows pornography and sexual exploitation of children and is scathing of some of activities of dating sites in protecting data.

His gluttony chapter covers everything from celebrity chefs, promoting diets to wanting the perfect body. His chapter on greed looks at our appetite for viral blogs and clicks while sloth looks at our laziness in discerning the truth -leaving us to believe fake news and be prey to ideas that the earth is still flat and covidiocy. It also deals with sinister Q-Anon movement and interference in elections, topically including Russia.

Making money out of wrath

This book challenges us to look behind what we click and also not to fall for provocations. The chapter on wrath looks at trolls and the nasty Incels movement – the misogynist white supremacists who use the internet to rage that they have not been laid by women and act out fantasies on the internet of raping and dominating women.

This is a thought provoking book. There is of course another side of the internet – its virtues in bringing people together, making people aware, revealing the truth about disastrous situations like the current invasion of the Ukraine and allowing ordinary people the freedom to develop their own ideas and publish them without having to get approval from officialdom. The author is promising a sequel- the seven virtues of social media. I await this with interest.

Social Media & The Seven Deadly Sins by Rory Wilmer. Available from Amazon £14.99 hardback, £8.99 paperback and free with Kindle Unlimited

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Is social media fuelling hatred and contempt in Britain?

jo cox mp

The late Jo Cox MP. Pic credit: BBC



The killing of MP  Jo Cox has caused many people to pause and question whether political debate is becoming too callous and extreme because of the  way social media and Twitter in particular encourage polarised views.

Today’s Inforrm blog carries a very thoughtful article from Sharon Coen, a senior lecturer in media psychology at Salford University. Her article as you can see here is mainly framed about political debate.

However what she says says about politics can easily be extended to the way trolls treat women and survivors of child sex abuse.

As she says on politics: “The adversarial communication style we see in politics today is certainly counterproductive and polarises opinions. Disagreement is great and is at the heart of democracy. But, as political scientist Susan Bickford argues, it is only by really listening to other people’s positions, not just discarding them, that the democratic process can be successful. And – as in face to face interaction among politicians or televised debates – the internet has proved so bad at enabling people to listen to each other that there are now attempts to redesign the way we communicate online to make us better listeners.”

On social media she says:

“Social media …is a double-edged sword. On the positive side, it fosters political engagement both on and offline. For example, in a small (unpublished) study I conducted, I found that when people used the internet to debate and comment on news online, they were also more likely to be politically active in the real world. Again, this is in line with other research in the area.

“But (my emphasis in bold) social media also fosters polarisation. People tend to connect to like-minded people – and engage with content that reflects their pre-existing attitudes and beliefs. Social media focuses political debate even further around individuals who have active profiles on social media sites. It can effectively put a big neon target on them, attracting more personal abuse from those who disagree with them.”

She goes on:”The recent launch of the Reclaim the Internet campaign has highlighted the amount of abuse individuals (and women in particular) are subjected to online. The issues of cyberbullying and cybermisogyny are ones that deserve serious consideration for the negative impact they can have on the recipients of such abuse.”

In my view this aggressive stance by some people – often more aimed at women than men – is becoming particularly nasty with MPs like Jo Cox (before she was killed) and Jess Phillips, Mp for Birmingham, Yardley, being recent targets.

I am also thinking of child sex abuse survivors like Esther Baker – whose allegations are the current subject of a police investigation – who has suffered egregious abuse on line from people who claim not to beleive her.

It is time that these bullies and cowards put up and shut up. They should think before they tweet. Would they say  that to a person’s face in public? If not why say it on line behind some anonymous or not so anonymous twitter handle? Their actions also encourage  more hate and division but most of them are not man enough ( yes they are mostly men!) to stand up in public and say what they think.

The problem  is that this type of behaviour is beginning to have nasty consequences and turning this country into a nasty place to live.