A funny twist on Dante's masterpiece will have you contemplating your own social sins.
After nearly 700 years, Dante Alighieri's "The Divine Comedy" is getting a bit of an overhaul.
So that's what Onnesha Roychoudhuri — who writes under the pen name Kali V. Roy (and who, full disclosure, is an editor here at Welcometoterranova) — set out to give the world. Her book, "Go to Hells: An Updated Guide to Dante's Underworld," is part a tongue-in-cheek update on Dante's "Inferno," part modern etiquette guide. Roychoudhuri describes it as "a series of punishments for people who seem to have temporarily forgotten how to be people."
While Dante's traditional nine circles of hell cover some boring basics like lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery, they didn't really answer pressing questions. Like, "What eternal punishment awaits people in my office — knock it off, Brad — who click 'reply all' when it is wholly unnecessary to do so?" or "What lies in store for the man sitting behind me at the movie theater who's chatting it up with his buddy while I'm trying to focus on the matinee of 'Inside Out'?"
These are pressing questions that Dante (come on, dude) didn't have the foresight to include.
Let's take a look at some of these modern circles of hell (and how we can avoid winding up within them), shall we?
1. Be polite to restaurant employees. Don't mess with people who handle your food. It's just a bad idea.
"Go to Hells" has a name for those who commit this particular sin: Waitstaff abusers. They're the ones sending food back to the kitchen, leaving subpar tips, and just generally acting as though their server is somehow less worthy of respect than they are.
What sort of hell awaits those who are rude to servers? An eternity of disgusting meals. So take heed, restaurant employees, the man who snapped his fingers at you and didn't leave a tip will get what's coming to him.
2. Spend all the time you'd like on your cell phones — but maybe not in the middle of conversation.
This goes double for people on the phone in line at a fast food restaurant, bank, or really just any situation where you have to interact with someone else.
Take comfort in knowing that those people who rudely glare at their phones as you're trying to speak to them will spend the rest of forever with the teeny, tiny arms of a T. rex and their phone just out of reach.
3. Follow some societal basics, such as walking on the right side of the sidewalk and not blocking train doors.
For those of you out there using public transportation, I'm sure you know who this is referring to — the guy who charges onto a train as soon as the door opens and before others can exit? Yeah, screw that guy. Don't be that guy.
It's only fitting that since he contributes to this type of obstruction that his hell shall be to forever have to fight the current in a river filled with trout.
4. Even if it's "just the Internet," that doesn't mean it's OK to be a total jerk to strangers (or friends, for that matter).
"Who cares!?" this person will comment at the bottom of articles not to their liking. "You're ugly!" they post to your Instagram. These, my friend, are trolls, and you don't want to be one. What are you contributing to the world by telling a stranger how little you think of their writing or looks or hobbies or interest in pop culture? Very little, I'd say!
Those who troll in life shall be trolled in death, as their hell is a never-ending comment section moderated by real trolls.
5. Don't take up an exorbitant amount of space on public transportation, or anywhere else.
Your bag does not need its own seat. Your legs do not need to spread at a 60-degree angle into the seats next to you. You do not need to take up the whole arm rest on an airplane. But, of course, you're not this person, now, are you? Let's hope not.
Because if you are, it seems you'll be stuck in an eternal game of musical chairs with other space-hogs like yourself.
Are these hard and fast rules for existing in society? Nah. Do whatever you please, but try to be considerate.
"I'm an incurable crank with a tiny nugget of hope at my core," says Roychoudhuri. "To me, 'The Inferno' and 'Go to Hells' are less about fire-and-brimstone in the afterlife and more about calling out the things that we do to each other here on earth. In this life. They offer a way for people to identify and relate to the crappy things we do to each other, in the hope that maybe we can find ways to be better humans while we're still, you know, alive and breathing."