Flip the Blame: The Devil Made Me Do It

Flip Wilson

Historically, religion has been a fundamental component of cultures throughout the world. The influence of religion is so pernicious that even steadfast atheists can exhibit vestiges of it. Of these religions, I’m most familiar with the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) so, for the record, I’ll be limiting my comments to them.

How many of you remember Flip Wilson? He was a very famous and popular comedian back in the early 1970s. He even had his own television show. Here’s a video, from YouTube, of Flip on the Ed Sullivan show . . .

. . . he popularized the phrase, “The Devil made me do it!”. It was a national catchphrase in the U.S.

I was reminded of Flip, recently, by a blogger featured on the WordPress “Freshly Pressed” webpage (which highlights WordPress bloggers). The blogger is Gary Mondejar, a chemical engineer and aspiring writer. I have no idea if he’s religious, indifferent or an atheist. He seems like a nice enough guy and his writing is usually pleasant to read. His featured post is titled “Good Riddance, Facebook”. It stood out, to me, as a glaring example of the-Devil-made-me-do-it attitude. But in this case, Facebook is substituted for the Devil. In all fairness, I know that projecting one’s own faults and foibles onto some other person, entity or thing need not be a religious impulse but I do believe it’s a tendency nurtured by religion; particularly Christianity. After all, Jesus Christ is a scapegoat on steroids. Is there a greater scapegoat than Jesus?

Well, if there is, it has to be the Devil.

Gary crafted this post as a letter to an ex-lover: Facebook. Here’s some quotes from his post that clearly reveal an attempt to blame Facebook for his own faults:

• you are sucking all my time
• you’re making me into someone I am not
• you make me hate myself
• altering wall posts and minor adjustments in statuses have become a staple part of our complicated relationship dynamics
• You’ve always made me feel like I needed to make my posts and stories more interesting than they really are
• you’re way too generous, to the point that I’m really having a hard time receiving all the stuff you so generously shower upon me
• I feel like our relationship has become a little more than a superficial facade, a carefully altered representation of myself
• It has been totally unexpected that with the ease you provide in communicating with “friends”, my relationships with my “friends” are increasingly becoming shallower

In every one of these instances, Gary is transferring blame from himself to Facebook. Is Facebook twisting his arm? Is there some nefarious mind-control going on here?

Perhaps I’m being too critical. Perhaps it’s excusable to project our insecurities away from ourselves. Or, perhaps, in our culture, we turn a blind eye when others claim “The Devil made me do it.”

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