[The Screwtape Letters written by C. S. Lewis present the tale of a demon-tutor (named Screwtape) who serves Satan. Screwtape’s task is to instruct his student Wormwood in the ways of evil. My previous post provides background material explaining the letter reproduced below, third of seven in a series of posts that follow.]
Your keen powers of observation are confirmed each time you write me now. You are correct in noting that the ever-present media to which I referred now includes that veritable devil’s playground They call the Internet. Within this format, the possibilities are endless for firming up your patient’s solid roots into the soil of our Camp. You say his young wife resents the time he’s spending online and away from her. Excellent! The seeds of marital discord are there for your able exploitation. You should coordinate your strategy with Grendvald to be certain he works on the woman with the same approach you direct at your man. Their mutual discontent will multiply devilishly well with this kind of two-pronged assault.
You would do well to remember your early lessons with me. I refer to that particular assignment that led to your disgrace and nearly to your end. (I know. I promised I wouldn’t bring up that matter again, but I’m a devil — I never claimed to be honest!)
My recollection is that your patient was living with his mother, a situation not dissimilar to living with a wife. I outlined four guidelines to warrant domestic turbulence. While the same methods would apply here, I would suggest you focus most on the latter two: the seemingly insignificant things she does that cause him great annoyance, and the off-handed comments they each utter that fall on the ears and penetrate their hearts like poisoned barbs. This can work. If the woman is like most of her kind whom I’ve observed, she’s already operating in a hypersensitive emotional mode. Make him smack his lips at the dining table, and belch in public without apology. Rock musicians are prone to grasping their crotches onstage, but wives are not generally enthusiastic about such behavior. Once his misconduct becomes ingrained, your patient needs only to throw in a sarcastic verbal zinger here and there to cool whatever esteem or passion his wife once had for him. And Grendvald can use the same technique as he works on the woman.
As to your man’s online activity, chat rooms offer much on which you can capitalize. Remind him that his chat room acquaintances “understand” him in a way his wife cannot. He can forge anonymous relationships in those chat rooms that feed his vanity and provide counterfeit satisfaction for his loneliness. The phony intimacy he can enjoy online will prove even more appealing to him than getting naked under the bedsheets with his wife. The anonymity of chat rooms heightens the allure. Your patient can be whoever he chooses to be, and he can fantasize wildly about his chat partners. It’s that element of mystery that draws him back time after time.
One of the Enemy’s own — I refuse to use his name — once said, “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make everyday are of such infinite importance.” (Frightening, isn’t it? A few of Them have figured out how significant the little decisions can be … but I won’t concern myself here with those few.) I only mention this quotation because it emphasizes that we must exploit those little decisions for evil in order to produce the greatest pain. Your man must be driven to the point where he hungers for the chat room. Sure, he might get fired if his boss finds him online chatting when he should be hard at his work. It doesn’t matter. If you can move him past distraction where his every thought is consumed by these computerized rendezvous, we can anticipate all manner of wickedness in his future. Little evil decisions multiply themselves to equal iniquity squared. That, Nephew, is the magic of what They call compound interest!
I think your patient’s chat room escapades are something we need to evaluate further. So, a couple questions before I close. Is there a particular chat room he prefers? With whom is he chatting? Given some additional information, this compound interest thing could become very interesting indeed.
 Quote attributed to C. S. Lewis