Should there be nine modern circles of hell for the mildly annoying?

Man in cinema on phone. Image: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock
Image: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

Those who are familiar with Dante’s Inferno will be aware of how the poem describes the writer’s journey through the nine circles of hell.

Each level is worse than the last and each is designed to punish anyone who had committed a variety of sins.

It’s a delightfully casual read.

Written in the 14th Century, Inferno is the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy, an epic poem which describes a soul’s journey toward God.

This a simple synopsis but that’s all we need for the purposes of this column.

Back in the 14th Century, you could argue that defining good or bad was quite easy. Most crimes were based on religious sin and if you committed these you’d be punished in this life and the next.

Of course, we all know it wasn’t as black and white as that but we haven’t the time to delve too deeply into that today.

However, with Dante’s inferno in mind, a recent chat with friends about minor, modern ‘crimes’ (that frustrate even the most cheerful of people on any given day) led us to begin reimagining those 14th-century circles in hell.

Circles that are not as severe as those described by Dante, as the sins themselves are obviously not as bad, but we’d all secretly like to see people punished for them anyway.

Circles reserved for that person who cut you up at the Clapham Road roundabout, or kept sniffing on the 08:15 from Bedford to St. Pancras.

Should there in fact be modern circles of hell for the mildly annoying? A place where the guilty can be sent to have a long hard think about what they’ve done.

But what would constitute a ‘mildly annoying’ sin? You know, it just so happens that my friends and I thought of a few.


  • Not saying “thank you” to someone who has given way. Is it really that hard to give a little smile, a wave, or a flash of your lights?
  • No need to replace that broken headlight, just keep your full beams on as you drive around. Not annoying at all.
  • We all know speeding drivers are a target in Bedford, but what about those who drive at 40mph in a 60mph? OK, they may be trying to drive safely, so why do they stay at 40mph when they hit a 30mph zone?
  • Got a cold? Getting on a train? Blow your nose, please.
  • Unnecessarily slow walkers on a busy street. I don’t think I need to say any more than that.

Modern technology

  • It’s really not a problem for other people if you’re looking at your phone while walking unless of course you never look up to see where you’re going.
  • Talking on your phone? Does it really need to be on loudspeaker?
  • In a cinema? Put. Your. Phone. On. Silent. And. Put. It. Away, Please.


  • People who say “close of play” when they are neither watching nor playing cricket.
  • “I’m not feeling well today so I’m going to work from home”, yeah we all know this is rubbish and you’re just going to be watching Netflix all day. Get to the office or take a day off sick.
  • Googleavoiders. “How do you do this?”, “What does this mean?”, “Is Facebook down?” The person you’re asking will probably just Google it, why can’t you?

General courtesy

  • The next customer bar at the supermarket is there for a reason. Be a love and use it after you’ve put your shopping on the belt. Oh, and please don’t leave your trolley in the middle of the aisle either.
  • Not saying “please” and “thank you” – the tiniest of efforts to show your appreciation can mean the world to the recipient.
  • Putting your empty tray back into the dispenser at airport security. Your mum isn’t going to do it and you’re probably the reason we’ve all had to queue for so long.
  • Swearing in public. Most of us love an f-bomb, but do those young kids nearby really need an advanced linguistics lesson?
  • Overly loud laughs – OK, this is subjective, but do you really, really, need to laugh THAT loudly?
  • People who enter a building or room and just stop in the doorway. Really? REALLY?
Inferno is the first part of Dante's Divine Comedy, an epic poem which describes a soul's journey toward God. Image: Conde/ Shutterstock
Inferno is the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy, an epic poem which describes a soul’s journey toward God. Image: Conde/ Shutterstock

Quite the list, but what punishments would be suitable for these crimes? Well, despite co-founding a local online newspaper I’m not actually a sadist, so we thought we’d leave the list as something not to take too seriously.

Although, I do secretly imagine a variety of complex punishments on those people who mildly annoy me with any of the above.

Did we miss any? Is there anything anyone does that you find mildly annoying that you think should be added to the list? Add your own to the social media post you read this article from.

But, remember, it’s just for fun. Ultimately, let’s just all be a bit nicer to each other.