New Seven Deadly Sins for the Modern World

By Shaun Tan

By Shaun Tan

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Staff Writer


Perhaps human nature doesn’t change much over the centuries, and people have always been really annoying. New technology, however, provides new ways for them to be insufferable, and the evolution of language provides new vocabulary to describe it.


Texting (in response to missed calls)

Why, oh why, do people do this? Obviously if someone wanted to communicate via text, he’d have texted you (instead of calling you) in the first place. Calling you probably means he thought the matter best discussed over the phone…or that he didn’t want to waste time exchanging half a dozen messages just to deal with something. Don’t text him – call him back, idiot!

Punishment: Being trapped in a fiery pit and praying for deliverance. God answers your prayers, but only intermittently, and only to say stuff like: “Hey, you rang?” and “What’s up? Text plz.”


Playing with phone in the presence of others

This is just damnably rude, especially when it’s one-on-one. And the person you’re with gets the insulting implication that the people in your phone are more interesting than he is.

Punishment: Being boiled alive in a vat of oil. An Angel of Mercy sits above with a ladder, but he doesn’t notice your thrashing or cries for help because he’s too busy playing with his phone.


Updating social media pointlessly

Does anyone really care that you just “did your laundry,” or that you “had a sandwich,” and it was “good?” Updating people on every mundane aspect of your life and posting up everything you ever ate is an abuse of social media.

Punishment: Basically the Chinese water torture, but with mundane tweets being whispered into your ear instead.



Definition: To spoil a photo by unexpectedly appearing in the shot as it’s taken, typically as a prank or practical joke.

How many photos are ruined because some (usually drunk) idiot jumps into them? Photobombing is rarely even funny; it’s just irritating.

Punishment: Strapped to a wall, with your eyelids removed, you are repeatedly blinded by an endless barrage of flash photography.


The last three are admittedly not exactly modern sins – but they seem to have been overlooked by the medieval Church, and we’ve only recently invented words for them.



Definition: To end a (usually romantic) relationship with someone by suddenly ceasing all communication without explanation and basically acting like you’ve died.

People often decry ghosting as a phenomenon of modern dating and blame it on technology or social media or whatever, but it was probably even more common before mobile phones and read receipts.

Anyway, whatever it is, ghosting is the worst: cruel, cowardly, and irresponsible.

Punishment: Being abandoned in a frozen wasteland devoid of any life. Every now and then you see an apparition of someone you know, but as you approach it, it just…fades away.



Definition: To lure someone into a relationship using a misleading persona (often with deceptively attractive pictures).

Again, not particularly new. Anne of Cleves arguably catfished Henry VIII into agreeing to marry her with a flattering portrait in 1539. Upon seeing her in the flesh, however, the king was purportedly so repulsed by her appearance that he was unwilling to consummate their marriage, annulling their union soon after.

Doubtless, catfishing has never been easier than it is today with Photoshop, Meitu, and Instagram filters, and can be done without the collusion of Hans Holbein the Younger. It still sets both parties up for disappointment, though, and is often a waste of everyone’s time.

Punishment: Being forced to marry a frog. Kissing it doesn’t turn it into a handsome prince or a beautiful princess, however (as it claimed), but instead turns it into an even uglier frog.



Definition: To make an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to boast about something.

Of all the sins, none is more despicable than humblebragging. It’s bragging without even having the courage to show off properly.

Anyone who broadcasts how “humbled” she is to receive an award or moans about how “hard” it is to choose between multiple attractive offers deserves a special place in hell.

Punishment: Being run over by an endless series of floats in a parade honoring your bitterest rival.

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