My pretties, it’s Halloween! As a great devotee of this festive occasion, something thematic seemed appropriate. Now, as I previously wrote about an updated pantheon of tech gods, I figure that on All Hallow’s Eve it makes sense to flip the script. And so, let us shed some light on a few demons that bedevil our daily tech endeavours.
Originally a demon that largely targeted children, causing them to endlessly request just one more bedtime story. It also causes adults to read just one more chapter until they’re bleary-eyed zombies the next day.
This demon has expanded its shenanigans thanks to the advent of streaming services. It can possess television watchers via the remote control or smart home assistant. Some of its finest work includes the diabolical trickery of Auto-Play, ensnaring viewers to watch just one more episode, and keeping victims glued to their couches for an entire weekend.
A demon of fiendish subtlety, with a long and varied history of bamboozlement and mischief. It is responsible for elaborate locks that are nonetheless quickly picked, easily deciphered codewords used to gain entry to secret gatherings, and guards who fall asleep at their posts in the wee hours of the night.
These days, the demon wreaks its havoc particularly on online accounts, where users are required to jump through endless hoops of misguided password-setting requirements… which result in terrible passwords anyway. A maximum of eight characters? Really?
It’s also responsible for luring people to complete online quizzes where their answers are the same as their secret account recovery questions.
Bet you thought all demons did naughty things, didn’t you? Nah, some cultures and religions know what’s up. There are demons that use their scary looks and cunning to provide protection to acolytes, and this is one of those.
This demon has protected temples from being burgled and helped keep innocents hidden from marauders in wartime. While it’s still getting its bearings in the 21st century, it’s doing a lot of good work on things like two-factor authentication and convincing people that passcodes are better for (un)locking their phones than their faces.
Thousands of years old, this demon once dried clay tablets before they could be cleanly inscribed, and caused papyrus to constantly roll up while the ink was still wet. It’s also suspected of making doctors’ handwriting illegible since the days when every prescription was for bloodletting.
These days? It’s printers. All of them. Closer to a plague than possession, really. Whether it’s running out of cyan in the middle of printing the family Christmas newsletter, inexplicably refusing to print your thesis an hour before it needs to be handed in, or randomly deciding your cartridges are alien matter, this demon has a torment for every occasion. PC LOAD LETTER, indeed.
You’d think if online trolls were truly the result of supernatural influence that they’d be, like, actual trolls. Surprisingly, no. Trolls are famously monosyllabic, so are in no way able to craft hateful and nonsensical multi-paragraph rants on repeat. Plus, the strength of wifi signals under bridges is notoriously spotty.
Online trolls do have a patron demon, however. Quite an ambitious specimen, too. Historically responsible for things like torch- and pitchfork-wielding mobs, witch hunts, and the geocentric theory of the universe.
The advent of social media has fed this demon’s power immeasurably, requiring it to amass a vast number of minions to meet quarterly targets. Its favourites being basement dwellers, which isn’t so different from living under a bridge, really.
This demon has been lightening the pockets and purses of unsuspecting marks since the invention of currency. Greedy, cunning and possessed of an endless talent for making the same deceptions seem fresh and new. This demon is nearly impossible to catch, and keeps popping up elsewhere to begin anew.
Modern technology has been a boon, making everything from counterfeiting to email spoofing a breeze. Today it will grin diabolically while getting a SIM swap done to steal your identity. Tomorrow it will email your grandma pretending to be her bank. Ironically, this demon has never actually been to Nigeria.
Let’s face it, humans have been coveting each other’s asses since time immemorial. (The 10th commandment – minds out of the gutter.) And this demon has been all too happy to capitalize on our weaknesses. While its influence is easily spread, for most of its history it had to sow seeds of covetousness one person at a time.
Social media has been devilsent for this demon, enabling it to stoke the fires of want and FOMO in thousands or millions of followers at a time through its middle managers of misery: the social media influencers. (Who are fairly talented at shredding the 9th commandment as well.)
In a stroke of genius, this demon also invented multi-level marketing, aka pyramid schemes, which can positively salt the earth of interpersonal relationships online and off when unleashed among one’s friends, family, and coworkers.
A demon as skilled in obfuscation as in stoking greed, its considerable powers of bamboozlement lead people to believe that digital and physical media are exactly the same, and at the same time convincing them that they have no ownership rights to things they’ve paid for.
It also inspires great monoliths to ever more convoluted acts of sorcery to continue bleeding away the money of people who wish to be entertained, whilst distributing little of those spoils among those it has tricked – with sparkling promises of wealth, fame, and artistic fulfillment – into blood-signed contracts for endless toil and remarkably little reward.
And there you have it. A mere sampling of the crafty demons that curse and ensorcel our everyday technological lives. Unfortunately, we have not yet found an effective or permanent mode of exorcism for any of them. Though there is some promising research being done in partnership with the angelic order of the Offgridim.