A Screwtape Letter for 2018
I just finished C.S. Lewis’s classic book The Screwtape Letters and was inspired to write a modern version of one of the letters that relates to how the devil can tempt us with our phones. It’s written from the perspective of a senior demon writing to a junior demon. In this letter, as in Lewis’s book, “Our Father Below” refers to Satan and “the Enemy” refers to God.
My dear Wormwood,
I’m very pleased it seems your client has picked up a very useful tool that can be used to our advantage. The little black box is the perfect size for our uses because it fits in his hand and in his pocket so he is never without it. Our most obvious application will be to get him to waste time. In fact, he will even waste time looking for ways to waste time. Smarter humans will invent ways to get others addicted so that they can sell things. Our man is a prime target for these traps.
But don’t get over-excited about the mere wasting of time. Don’t get me wrong, we celebrate any hour your man is neglecting his family and not placing his attention on our Enemy. But can you see our real use for this delightful little box? It is to get him focused on himself. The very first letter of name of the box suggests it – “i”. There is nothing more glorifying to Our Father Below than a man fully absorbed in himself. We don’t have to get him to worship Our Father; we just need him to worship himself. Start by getting him to use the delightfully, ironically named “social” media applications. This is the fastest way to get him isolated. The key is to fill his page with “friends” who seem to have it a little better and a little worse than him. Make sure these are mostly people whom he really doesn’t see, because we want to keep him from as much human connection as possible.
Our goal is to get him to compare. Our Father has been using Jealousy ever since the first two brothers, and it will still work today. We need a few people on his “newsfeed” who he thinks are better looking than him. (Though how any of those ugly creatures think they are beautiful is beyond me.) Find someone with a picture-perfect house. Get several people who always seem to be traveling to exotic places just out of our man’s reach. Find someone with more followers. Get someone more clever. And especially focus on the men who are in his field who are a little more successful than he is. Don’t worry about filling his page with celebrities or super rich people, that’s not necessary, just give him people that are just a little beyond him in one area. Every day, remind him of how great their life is and bland his life is. You can use this growing discontent to draw him toward fantasies. A discontent man is one Our Father Below can greatly use!
When he sees these pristine pages, he will starting thinking of how he can top them or at least attain these standards himself. Time, money and energy will be spent curating a carefully crafted page. You will be tickled when he neglects his responsibilities to go somewhere just so he can post about it. Help him get just enough followers and “likes” that he starts feeling good about himself. The more the better, really. But make sure he feels the pressure to keep producing better and better posts to get the same amounts of likes.
Be careful that he doesn’t become aware of this wonderful growing addiction. You can help him feel better about it by allowing him to “help people” – maybe by quoting some words from the Enemy, as long as they are out of context and throughly twisted. Get our man so absorbed in the amount of likes he gets that he checks it multiple times a day. If we can get him to base his happiness on his likes then we can control him.
Also put people who he thinks himself better than on his feed as well. As long as to him they seem uglier, poorer or have worse style, it’s good for him to have a people he can look down on. It’s even better to help him feel the great rush of pleasure we so enjoy when someone he once envied fails. There is no joy so sweet to Our Father Below than to see our patient delighting in evil. If we can get him hoping for his “friends” to have bad times we are winning.
Our primary goal is to slowly increase his pride, so he becomes more and more absorbed in himself, his image, and how he is compared to both those above him and those weaklings below him. This “magic window” serves us best when used to reflect our patients image back to him and give him a better picture than reality. But my one fear is that one day he will look into the box and hate what he sees. He might want to get rid of it, but by then he will be addicted and Our Father Below is the expert at using addiction. We can use his self-hate just as much as self-love. After all, they are basically the same thing. As long as our man is focused on himself we got him. With self-hate we can get him to attempt more and more desperate attempts at attention. Also this will allow us to tempt him with darker, lustful offerings I will write to you more about later.
This box is of so much use to us, but be careful because we are never beyond our Enemy’s reach. Even the Enemy’s Book can be accessed on this box. No doubt our patient will want to get Enemy’s Book on his screen to make him feel better. But be careful he doesn’t go beyond that. Especially don’t let him start a reading plan. If he must look at the “verse of day” or open it occasionally we can live with that, as long as he doesn’t make a habit of actually reading it. If he starts a daily reading plan and becomes aware of his pride, our entire plot might be ruined. Your goal should be to get him checking his notifications first thing in the morning when he wakes up, and looking at his newsfeed last thing before he goes to bed. This will keep his mind where we want it to be. Make sure he doesn’t open then Enemy’s Book first thing in the morning! Our Enemy has also created ways for our client to connect with other followers of His using this box. Our client can listen to preachers, and even attend church online, but I wouldn’t worry much about that as long as he doesn’t have to share about what’s really going on in his life. Even those things are safe as long as we can keep him hidden behind the screen.
The most beautiful thing about this box is that it keeps our patient away from engaging the calling he has been given from our Enemy. If he’s attached to the device then he’s not playing with his son. He’s not listening to his wife. He’s not seeing the needs of people around him, and most of all he’s not connecting with the Enemy personally. If we can limit as much of his life to this box as possible, we can get him to waste his life.