The Social Media of Hell

“People, especially people’s troubles, are not fit entertainment, but can be entertaining. That’s not good. We need justice, but doing justice is not so we can make a Netflix series and gaze slack jawed at the bad guys and marvel at their talk.

“A Christian is called to love his enemies and that’s hard to do if they are providing your amusement for the evening. Social media can send a swarm of us after the latest example of someone breaking down or being taken down on Twitter.

“When I participate, I am going down to Hell and listening to the endless natter, the continuous stream of accusations, justifications, and whines that mark the damned or so Dante’s Inferno would suggest. There Dante gets stuck in a dangerous place, because he wishes to hear the social media stream of damnation.” […]    –John Mark N. Reynolds, Patheos, April 2, 2019

‘Dante’s Inferno isn’t hot enough for you,’ says judge

“STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Earlier this month, Anthony Morales admitted to slaying a neighbor and her son on a Mariners Harbor street two years ago.

“But the stocky 51-year-old defendant didn’t apologize for their deaths at his sentencing on Wednesday. Instead, Morales presented himself as the victim, claiming the decedents had harassed and tormented ceaselessly over the years, had followed him to a home he owned in Pennsylvania and had ‘come looking for’ him on the day they died.

“State Supreme Court Justice Mario F. Mattei listened patiently to Morales’ rambling seven-minute monologue in his St. George courtroom packed with the victims’ distraught relatives. And when Morales finally sat down, the judge didn’t mince words or hide his disdain.” […]    –Frank Donnelly, SiLive, May 30, 2018

Getting Fired because of Dante’s Inferno

“Recently, there have been a number of Employment Tribunal cases focusing on employees’ Facebook posts. In Weeks v Everything Everywhere Limited, the claimant was dismissed after making posts that compared his employer to Dante’s Inferno.

“Everything Everywhere Limited (EEL) employed Mr Weeks as a customer service adviser. Its social media policy warned employees to avoid making posts that could damage EEL’s reputation or be viewed as bullying and harassment.

“Mr Weeks frequently made Facebook posts that likened EEL to Dante’s classical portrayal of Hell, such as “Dante’s awaits me – what a downer 12 hours of love and mirth“. Ms Lynn, one of his colleagues, reported these comments to Mr Groom, his line manager. Mr Groom formally warned Mr Weeks to stop posting in this manner.” […]    –Julie Keir, Brodies, March 29, 2013

“The 9 Circles of Hell… I Mean, Bedtime”

Circles-of-hell-bedtime“I’ve tried everything I can think of to make bedtime a less painful time of day for us, but I’ve run the gamut between rewards and punishments and all I get is this same sequence of events, night after night.

“Bedtime is a monotonous, hellish time for me, as I am sure it is for a lot of parents. [. . .]” — Cheney Meaghan, Pickle Fork, January 4, 2019

Ty Owens, “The 9 Circles of Modern Hell”

“In the story Inferno from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, there were nine circles of Hell – nine phases of Hell that Dante must pass through, each worse than the last. In the modern day, most people are not as afraid of ‘sinning’ as people were back in the day of Dante. This world has a great mix of faiths and degrees of lacking one. So, ‘sinning’ in the old way of describing actions isn’t really as relevant anymore. Therefore, I believe a renaming of the Nine Rings of Hell is in order so that people of the modern day can get more of a grasp on the terror that Dante was trying to get across with Inferno.

[. . .]

“3. Too Many Stops in Your MusicTy-Owens-Spinning-Wheel-of-Death-Buffering

Whether it be those few minutes where every radio station is on commercial or where the data is too slow to stream music, there are times when the music just isn’t playing. This is justifiably maddening because the only real reason this should happen is that ‘American Pie’ by Don McLean just came true and the music died. This circle of Hell is populated by radios that play only one line of a random song for every 24 hours of commercials or speakers that only play stints of skipping music between days of watching the ‘Loading’ or ‘Buffering’ icons pin.” — Ty Owens, “The 9 Circles of Modern Hell,” The Odyssey Online (July 18, 2016)

Contributed by Jessica Brewer (University of Kansas, 2019)

Homer Simpson’s Donut Hell

Hell-Ironic-Punishments-Division-Door-SimpsonsThe Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror IV” (S05E05): after losing his soul to the devil in a bargain over a donut, Homer is subjected to punishments in Hell’s “Ironic Punishments Division,” where the demon in charge of force-feeding him donuts is astonished at his capacity.

See a clip from the episode on YouTube.

See also the action figure released by MacFarlane Toys (pictured below).

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Go To Hells: An Updated Guide to Dante’s Underworld by Kali V. Roy (2015)

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“In the 1300s, Dante described only nine circles of hell in the underworld. Since then? No new updates. Thankfully, Go to Hells picks up where Dante left off, providing readers with a much-needed expanded edition of the Inferno. Included in this volume-in-verse are helpful descriptions and illustrations of the contemporary hell circles that have cropped up since Dante’s times. The guiding maxim of Go to Hells? We all know that the devil is in the details. So when you tell someone to go to hell, you should be as specific as possible. Covering everything from Movie Talkers and Loud Typers to Reply All-ers and those guilty of chronic PDA, Go to Hells provides all the details the savvy crank needs to keep pace with the new and ever-more-irksome irritations of the modern world.” — Amazon.com

See Parker Molloy’s review of the book on upworthy.com.

And check out the video trailer for the book on YouTube.

Westworld S01E05: “Contrapasso” (2016)

Episode 5 of the first season of the HBO original series Westworld is called “Contrapasso.”

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To read about key moments from the episode, see this October 30, 2016, blogpost on The Hollywood Reporter (beware of spoilers!).

Ben Brantley, “‘Miles for Mary,’ a Sendup of the Interminable Meeting From Hell”

“Though Dante cataloged many forms of diabolical torture in his Inferno, a guided tour of hell, he somehow missed out on what could well be the most excruciating eternal punishment of all. I mean (ominous organ chords, please) the staff meeting that never, ever ends.” –Ben Brantley, “Review: ‘Miles for Mary,’ a Sendup of the Interminable Meeting From Hell,” New York Times, October 9, 2016

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Robert A. Ferguson, Inferno: An Anatomy of American Punishment (2014)

Robert-Ferguson-Inferno-Punishment-Prisons-DanteColumbia Law professor Robert A. Ferguson published a study of the theory informing American systems of punishment in penal institutions. Calling for a new model that emphasizes correction over condemnation, Ferguson writes, “Punishment is a reflexive response to misbehavior, and punishers in their anger are always spontaneously at the ready. Rehabilitation requires thought, a plan, work, and the willingness to probe slow changes in more mundane objects of attrition. It will always be easier to ask for punishment than to institute a treatment program in a prison system where punishment comes first. The answer, to the extent that we can give one, lies in something separate, something either beyond or after punishment.

“The Divine Comedy is a limited guide, but it does reveal the pernicious parameters in the psychology of punishment and gives a response to them. [. . .] Criminal justice has gone astray, lost in a dark wood of its own making. It is time, more than time, to find a way out.” — Robert A. Ferguson, Inferno: An Anatomy of American Punishment, 249.

From David Cole’s review in the New York Times: “[Ferguson] insists that the only way out is to reconceptualize punishment. Invoking the circles of hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy, Ferguson argues that we need to reorient our prisons away from punishment and debasement and instead model them on Purgatorio, where individuals are restored to heaven through the care and love of others.” — David Cole, “Punitive Damage,” New York Times Sunday Book Review (May 16, 2014)

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