Confessions of a Paranoid Internet User
Have you heard about the new Roman Catholic confessional iPhone application? It’s creating quite a stir.
The app, which markets itself to “those who frequent the sacrament and those who wish to return,” offers a guide to the confession, and keeps a password-protected log of users’ sins.
Now, while I’m no longer a practicing Roman Catholic, I’ve long felt that confession was useful as a sort of proto-psychiatrist’s couch – although the confessor may not be getting sound psychological advice, often just the act of talking to someone about the things we keep hidden can be helpful in relieving a burdened mind.
That said, my first response when I heard about this application was to flip into Collective Detective mode.
Let’s say you’re a good RC, and you’re tracking your confessions, saving up those sins for a rainy Sunday. You’re a stiff-collared fellow, but the flesh is weak – you’ve occasionally relieved the supply shelf at work of excess sticky pads, and, in an effort to avoid using contraceptives, you often conduct a little five-finger shuffle after the lady of the house has retired.
It’s not like you’ve ever murdered anyone, but you like to keep an honest chronicle of your minor-misdeeds, and you track your habits meticulously.
What you don’t know, however, is that each time you update your log of immorality, your confession goes straight from your fingers to AngryCoder69’s database. One day you get an email: “I know about the stapler you stole. Buy my new game, Mr Muncher’s Mixed Up Mulberries, or I’ll be in touch with your office.”
Sure, that may sound far fetched, but what if we tighten the noose a little? What if it’s “pay $200 to this anonymous paypal account, or I’ll inform your boss about what a fun time you had last Tuesday, while visiting with Ms. Schmackelheimer in the server closet?”