As everyone else, I've been watching the riots with a mixture of horror, anger, disgust and sorrow. I've listened to a lot of the things that politicians have been saying, particularly the Prime Minister, and much though it surprises me, I think he's onto something.
There's absolutely no doubt that social resources had a huge part to play in the riots. If it hadn't been for the use of them, we wouldn't have had idiots getting to shopping centres and smashing things up. These are dangerous tools, and used incorrectly can be used at least in part to help kill people, and most certainly as highways to robbery. Without them we wouldn't have got big gangs of individuals together so quickly. They allow a criminal element to quickly move from one place to another, often outwitting the police, who seem unable to fully appreciate their use. It's true to say that not everyone throughout the world is used to them, and they do take a bit of getting used it. However, in a developed, western country which even in the current financial situation is pretty well off you'd expect most people to realise that they can be used for good AND ill.
It's really not going to be possible to limit their use though - we can't really have a two tier system, and the authorities cannot track and trace everyone that's on them. Perhaps we could allow their use during the day and at peaceful times, simply shutting them in times of riot and civil unrest. That would certainly ensure that the criminal element couldn't organise so easily, but equally, those of use who use them for entirely acceptable reasons are also going to miss out. The trouble is though, once social is so deeply ingrained into the way in which we do things, when they become part OF society, rather than a simple adjunct to it, it's going to be a huge task to simply close them off.
However, I echo the Prime Minister's sentiments. I've used these social constructs for a very long time, and I know absolutely how dangerous they can be. Extreme measures do need to be taken, and while it's a difficult experiment, it's a courageous one. So, I'm going to take a deep breath and say ....
"YES! Let's ban the use of roads forthwith."
(Err.. those ARE the social resources he means, arn't they? After all, anything else would be just too mindblowingly insanely stupid, wouldn't it?)