There are some in SL who consider it almost a badge of honour to be banned, whether it be from a venue, parcel, group or any combination thereof, and will happily own the bragging rights to their misfortune. I personally find that a bit weird – but each to their own – and, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never behaved in such a way to be excluded from any part of the Grid – and I’m quite happy with that situation.

The banning tools that SL provides are really quite powerful, especially when combined with the ‘no pushing/flying/script/object entry’ options, they’re an effective way of making people toe the line and for stopping undesirable behaviours, and I’m certain that all of us at some time have wished we had the equivalent powers in the real world to deal with the annoyances and obnoxious individuals that we’re often faced with in our daily lives.

The point was brought home forcibly to me the other day, when some of my own RL pet hates conspired to come together in an unholy moment that left me fuming. Imagine, if you will, me walking home in a pleasant residential area, minding my own business and without a care in the world. Then, in front of me, an idiot, walking erratically and totally oblivious to the world around him – due to the headphones covering his ears – his ocular attention focussed on the playlist on his phone, accompanied by the ocasional tuneless, blurted out lyric. I think you know what’s coming: He, of course, is slowly meandering all over the path, stopping randomly to flick through his music, whilst I am purposefully making good progress… I just know we are going to end up in an embarrassing collision.

Then it gets worse.

Coming toward him, and myself from the rear, again utterly oblivious to her surroundings, a woman is rapidly approaching; totally engrossed in the conversation she is having on her phone, which is held out before her like an offensive weapon.

They tangle in some sort of ritualistic pavement tango, whilst I – collateral damage – am forced off the footpath, into the road, and into the path of a car coming around the blind corner behind me.

Was any apology offered? Any concern shown? Of course not – my two assailants, merely untangled their cables and retreated into their respective private coccoons. And I inwardly fumed. The rest of my walk was spent plotting what I’d do to ban my pet peeves should I ever become ruler of the world, or alternatively, if I could ever come up with a real world equivalent of the SL toolkit.

Surprisingly, for one as tech savvy as myself, the majority of my nemeses are spawned by the all-powerful smartphone, but as with so many things, I feel that this particular gadget has the means to be a great power for both good and evil… Provided it’s kept out of the hands of numpties and idiots!

So, in no particular order, here’s my list of Hateful Things, which is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good start:

  1. Using mobile phones on the move. If I had it my way, all but the briefest calls whilst walking would be banned. Anything more – long conversations, status updates, scrolling through any sort of list – would all have to take place in designated areas, well out of the way of anybody trying to make headway on the pedestrian highway
  2. Conversations on speaker in public. No! How can this ever be acceptable? If you’re incapable of holding the damned phone to your ear, then use an earpiece, and while we’re at it, don’t walk down the street having a disembodied conversation with somebody, giving the impression that you’re either mad, or want to involve the world in a conversation they have no interest in being part of.
  3. Playing music out loud. No thank you! I don’t want to hear it, nobody else wants to hear it, and you are not a radio station, mobile DJ, or gangsta rapper. So keep it to yourself!
  4. Drivers who do not use their indicators. Seriously, it’s an itty bitty finger movement and if you’re too lazy, arrogant, stupid or ignorant to extend this tiny courtesy to other road users, then – if I was in charge – I’d mandate the immediate seizure and crushing of your vehicle, and possibly the surgical removal of your hands, since they are clearly surplus to your requirements
  5. Umbrella users. I’d forbid the use of umbrellas without a licence. Two abreast would be banned, as would their use in covered areas. Blocking shop doorways, or erecting them when exiting onto the street like a spring loaded katana would be imprisonable offences
  6. Hogging train seats. If you want your bag, case, coat or dog to travel in the comfort of a seat, then you pay for the privilege, plain and simple.
  7. Eating crisps within public earshot. Until crisp manufacturers come up with noiseless, soggy versions of the snack packed in non-crumple fabric bags, then the only time it’s permissable to eat them is outside the usual 19 metre conversation range so sensibly imposed in SL.
  8. Dogs barking three doors down. Strangely, I could listen to hyaena vocalising, elephants rumbling and lions roaring all night, but that dammed dog, down the street, who constantly barks for no reason other than he’s left alone all day, drives me bonkers. It’s not the dog’s fault, so I’m afraid it’s the owners who have to pay the penalty of being chained up in a small back garden every day, with nothing better to do than shout at the top of their voices about the injustice of it all to anyone who will listen.

I could go on, but what’s the point? The fact is that I shall never rule the world, and there’s never going to be a real world equivalent of the tools we have to manage annoyances inworld, so I guess we’re stuck with them.

But, if I do ever meet you coming the other way, headphones on, eyes down, and no idea that I’m within range: Be warned, because next time, I’ll be pushing you into the road!

s. x

You sit alone at home in the darkness
With all the pent-up rage that you harness
I’m real sorry
‘Bout whatever happened to you
Courtney Barnett – Nameless, Faceless

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