Confessions of a Paranoid Internet User

10 Feb

Confession by Giuseppe Maria Crespi, 1712Have 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.

Confession App

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.”
Milton, with stapler, from Office SpaceSure, 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?”


4 Responses to “Confessions of a Paranoid Internet User”

  1. Jeff February 10, 2011 at 13:27 #

    Hmmm – excellent analysis. Yesterday his Holiness the Popester spoke out against the app, therefore we can probably remove the Vatican from the potential list of extortionists as they most likely wouldn’t condemn something from which they could profit…unless…

    • JRD Skinner February 10, 2011 at 13:46 #

      Ooooh – you’ve got something there! What I need to do is create an ‘Indulgences’ app, that way I can get the money right up front.

      From el Wikipedia (

      “Professional “pardoners” (quaestores in Latin) – who were sent to collect alms for a specific project – practiced the unrestricted sale of indulgences. Many of these quaestores exceeded Church teachings, whether in avarice or ignorant zeal, and promised impossible rewards like salvation from eternal damnation in return for money.”

  2. bmj2k February 10, 2011 at 14:01 #

    It gives new meaning to the term Deus ex machina.

    • JRD Skinner February 10, 2011 at 14:37 #

      Ha – good call. It’s a shame I can’t find a reasonable Latin translation for ‘network’.

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