If you leave your front door open and people come in and spray graffiti in your living room and shit on your carpet (yes, this happened to me). If they trash the front of your shop with blinds and locks and security devices. If they mug you, knock you unconscious and, perhaps kill you.
Well, you get the picture. This has been reality in the UK for the past week.
But, wait a minute, my life is online. Pretty much everything precious to me that I own is in the cloud, from my savings, my music, my films and my business. And they are all regularly threatened by other human beings, who believe that they have an intellectual prerogative. Actually, worse still, they believe that they have a moral prerogative.
It has lead me to think about what the difference is between hackers and Rioters. One lot trash your life in the physical world, the other lot trash your life in the virtual world.
Is one more insidious than the other ?
In fact, the situation is worse. In the riots you had to be unlucky, to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Online, merely by posting this, I have made myself and my livelihood a target.
Offline businesses may suffer from Rioters, but it's frankly random. Online there is a viscous anarchistic agenda that couches itself in the freedoms we all benefit from and value from being citizens of the cyberspace, but is far more insidious and, frankly, arrogant.
Your average hacker will walk into your website, trash it and blame you for 'not being secure' and this seems acceptable. If you did the same to a property in Camden or Croydon today I suspect you would not have the same response.
So why do we accept the online Rioters ? And what gives them the moral right to judge, damage, break and destroy the rest of us, who are merely trying to make a decent living online ?