20 Real Life Examples Of “The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions”

Published 1 year ago

A few days ago, a thread popped up asking redditors to narrate a real-life example of when the epithet, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, was an appropriate fit. This question really seems to have resonated with Netizens , after all we are the generation that can empathize with, Thanos, the villain of the movie who chose to erase half the humans off Planet Earth to save it from overpopulation.

Many have latched on to this topic and delivered a host of responses and we’ve shared a select few below. At the end of the day, the reality is that at some point down the line in our lives, there are just some situations where other people may sometimes act with the best of intentions, and make grave mistakes, but we may be the ones that have to live with the consequences. What you can control, is only how you choose to respond to that situation to make it better in the long run.

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Image source: GunasInFlux, Reb2008

My mom called my Christian university (that 17 year old me attended by my parents behest) to inform the school that I was smoking weed, drinking, and having sex. She thought because it was a Christian university, they would put me into a counseling program to get me “back on track.” The school told me to pack my bags, leave immediately and they rescinded the 80% scholarship I obtained, causing me to owe the full 100% for that semester which I’m still paying off a decade later.

– Edit: this comment is getting a lot of traction so I figured I’d add another nugget. After getting kicked out of college, my 18th birthday was the next month. My parents somehow (my dad is a tech nerd so he could hack any account I had) found out that I was going to have a party at a friend’s house to celebrate. There was alcohol and weed at the party. Low and behold my parents called the state police and alerted them of the party. I and 3 other friends got arrested that night. Most charges were dropped or expunged eventually.

– Edit 2: thank you to everyone for your responses! There’s too many comments and dms to reply to so I will answer some here:

– For those saying I got what I deserved or my mom was justified – It takes 2 to tango. My choices played a role for sure. This story was a response to the prompt about good intentions going sideways. My mom had good intentions when she alerted the school of my activity. She didn’t want me to get kicked out and still be paying for it years later but that’s what happened. I don’t claim sainthood in this scenario. I broke the rules knowingly.

– How did my mom know about the partying/sex? I visited home for a weekend and she went through my bags while I was in the shower. She found condoms and a bottle of liquor. She already knew I’d been smoking weed here and there for a couple years at this point.

– I said my dad “hacked” my online accounts to discover I was throwing a party. Excuse my lack of intelligent tech vocabulary there. He had a program or software where he could track key strokes to then discover passwords to my accounts or something along those lines. Similar to what they used to monitor the computers in my high school.

– How is my relationship with my parents now? It’s great. I have forgiven them completely. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel some resentment now and again. Their choices (and mine even more so) made my life very difficult. At my lowest point, I made a plan to kill myself. All of my dreams and potential seemed crippled by debt and a lack of gainful employment opportunities. I lived in a town (technically a village) of 300 people in rural north east, USA. Thankfully, before I was able to harm myself too badly or permanently, I had a “mystical” experience. During that experience, I saw my situation, my parents, myself, and reality from a perspective that was not my own regular waking consciousness. I saw that I could choose to perpetuate pain and suffering by holding onto anger, hate, and resentment for my parents and myself for the choices we made. I saw it was possible to feel joy, to forgive, to repair, to heal. My life didn’t instantly become better the next day, but my perspective shifted to where I wanted to repair the damage that was done. “Anger is the 2nd wound your enemy inflicts upon you” was very applicable in my situation. I could let the anger and hurt dictate what my life would look like or I could choose to cultivate joy, come what may. Holding onto anger and resentment was another form of allowing my parents to control me. The real “power move” is to forgive. To release the hold your “enemy” (for lack of a better term) has over your life through your unhappiness. Behind true forgiveness is where we find freedom. Much love, Reddit.


Image source: 001235, Tery14

My parents thought that if they brought us kids to church every week (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and **all** day Sunday), had us go to private religious schools, and made us volunteer for religious organizations, we’d stay out of trouble and be as zealous as they are. As soon as each of us could, we ran away and never looked back. One of my sisters won’t attend a funeral if its in a church!


Image source: LatrodectusGeometric, Karolina Grabowska

A man named Dr. Spock wrote a handbook for childrearing. It was widely circulated and well received. Many of our parents likely got their childrearing advice from this book.

In it he recognized that babies throw up a lot and therefore recommended newborns be laid on their stomachs to sleep. Unknowingly, this would result in the accidental smothering deaths of thousands of newborns. A huge number of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) cases can be laid at his feet.

To this day the back to sleep campaign is still fighting to update parents on what we now know: newborns should sleep on their backs until they can reliably roll over for themselves.


Image source: EisConfused, EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA

Those parents who solve all their kids issues and don’t make them “stress” about consequences of their own actions. Their kids just turn into inept and entitled adults who still act 15 for decades and not only have a harder life for themselves but make life miserable for everyone around them too.


1)yes it’s bad to go too far the other way, raising a child is a balancing act, I get that, but ignoring a child isn’t usually from good intentions while spoiling them often is and that was the prompt :)

2) if this sounds like it happened to you, I promise you that you can get yourself out of the cycle. It sucks and it hurts and it’s unpleasant, but you can do it if you want to. Get ready to fail, and then keep trying anyway. Persistence will be a new skill, and you will be bad at it. And that’s okay.

You didn’t do this to yourself, you don’t need to feel shame. Digging yourself out however is something you’ll be doing yourself, and you can take pride in every step you make it the right direction.


Image source: markedbeamazed, Allison Meier

Zero tolerance in schools. Now the bullied kids are being punished.


Image source: notawhingymillenial, Rob and Stephanie Levy

Once upon a time, I found a wallet on the beach.

Having lost my own more than once, and not having it returned to me, I am aware that it is a stressful life event.

So, my first thought was how to return it quickly.

Looking through the contents, the owner was from out of state and there was no contact information other than the drivers license. Aside from that, only a few credit cards and some cash.

Not knowing how long ago the owner had left, I thought let’s just sit here for a while and maybe he will return looking for it since it is the first thing I would do.

After a couple hours of fun and sun we needed to move on; my next best idea was to turn it into the local police station which we found easily enough just down the street.

What I thought would be a quick in and out turned into a full on interrogation session during which I was, at one point, accused of theft/robbery.

It was a bizarre experience, to say the least, which wasted an hour of our day.


I knew a guy that saw a kid trip into the street, since a car was coming the guy grabbed the kid by the arm picked him up and dropped him on the sidewalk. The car missed the kid but clipped the guy and broke a couple ribs.

The car kept going.

The mom of the kid who wasn’t paying attention only saw the guy drop the kid on the sidewalk, she proceeded to accuse him of kidnapping and started hitting him. This was on a busy NYC street corner.

He didn’t have medical insurance and had to use a free clinic which he couldn’t get to until hours of questioning by the police. He had to walk there on his own.

He missed his classes and his teacher didn’t buy his story saying it wasn’t realistic enough, he was not allowed to retake an exam he missed.

He was already suffering from social anxiety and questioning if he had enough self worth to keep going.

Image source: somedoofyouwontlike


Image source: Aldous_Hoaxley, Katie Ashdown

The introduction of Kudzu for erosion control. It has become invasive and girdles and kills plant life above ground without establishing proper roots, therefore causing soil erosion.


Image source: Addwon, belgianchocolate

The introduction of non-native species as a means of solving an environmental problem.


Image source: Samurai_IX, bufalu

In every War, even the most righteous ones, there were members of the “good side” that were rapists, sadists, plain old vile.


Thomas Midgley

A Great scientist. He help to get rid of the problem of petrol causing ‘knocking’ in engines…. By adding lead to Gasoline

Then he turned his endevours to reducing the amount of Toxic and flammable gases used in Air con and refrigeration systems……. and invented CFC’s

Image source: ArcTan_Pete


Image source: afwaltz, Pussreboots

George W Bush admin created subsidies on corn to promote the production of ethanol to be used in fuel, etc. Better for the environment and so forth. Couple of downstream effects:

1) Ethanol in fuel lowers the fuel efficiency, so you have to buy gas more frequently (more of an inconvenience, but that’s why fuel with no ethanol is usually slightly more expensive).

2) Corn sold for other purposes than ethanol didn’t qualify for the subsidies, so there was a strong financial incentive to sell to ethanol produces instead of for food. This drove the price of food corn (and food that uses corn-derived ingredients) up, affecting poor people the most.

3) The financial incentives were so strong that farmers were buying up cheap land in areas that were very unsuitable for corn production or switching away from crops that would grow more easily if they couldn’t afford more land. In western Kansas, corn needs to be heavily irrigated in order to grow. There is an enormous aquifer that stretches from South Dakota to the Texas panhandle. Increased irrigation combine with a years-long drought drained the aquifer to the point that the city of Hays has to truck their water in.

Edited to add line breaks.

Edited again to say thank you for the awardsand the likes, kind strangers!


Image source: yamsnz, Brisbane City Council

A company in a town I used to live in “employed” a lot of people from the local disability support center, these people had mental disabilities such as Down syndrome and this company “employed them” to come in a few hours a week and “work” – and by work I mean little tasks that gave these employees lives a sense of meaning, purpose and structure. Things like folding pamphlets and stamping papers and they would be paid a small amount for their time, not minimum wage but enough for them to be absolutely thrilled with their “pay” from working.

The government made some changes so that these people HAD to be paid minimum wage (I assume to avoid people being taking advantage of), I am sure they had the best intentions but this company, and many others could not afford to pay all of these people minimum wage and so they had to cut back to only letting 1-2 people work instead of all of the people who were benefiting from “working” for them initially.

It was really sad especially because these people did not understand why they were not allowed to work anymore.


Image source: raftsa, meo


Surgery to fix the mentally unwell

It sounds so good: no more reliance on medication, you’re good from now on.

But it didn’t work.

The outcomes were awful and it was frequently done without any sort of consent

It all could have been shut down fairly quickly if people were honest about what was happening, but careers and money was at stake….so many unnecessarily suffered


Image source: Zemykitty, Pixabay

On a personal scale trying to help a really drunk person. I’m a woman and talkative and I started talking to another woman at a bar who was really really drunk. She told me her friends deserted her so I said she could hang out with me and my friends as it was my birthday (to keep an eye on her and because she seemed fun). Then she started falling off of chairs and spilling drinks so I encouraged her to get a cab. She started crying how everyone hates her as I was helping her outside but agreed to go home. I got a cab, paid for it because she was a mess, and all of the sudden she got really violent and ended up kicking me in the face trying to get out of the cab because she ‘wasn’t done’. She pushed me and told me to f**k off but ultimately sat back down in the cab crying.

We had already exchanged numbers so the next day she texted me apologizing profusely and asking if we could stay friends. I told her I appreciated her apology but no thanks.

I will always try to help people where I can but that turned me off from going above and beyond. Plus, you can rarely rationalize with really drunk and upset people.


Image source: layendecker, Tracy Le Blanc

The invention of social media.

When Tom was working at Friendster, I genuinely believe he wanted to build something that allowed people to socialise and communicate in a new and modern way.

On paper, early MySpace is a brilliant concept that made a lot of people realise the potential of the internet.

This concept was that mutilated and turned into what social media is today. Quite possibly the single most socially damaging invention that ever happened. Far away from bringing people closer together, it has turned into a tool that is tearing people further apart, making them feel more disconnected with society than ever- and instead of democratising discussion, it has put even more power into the hands of the elite.


Image source: Faoroth, Tobias Dziuba

I recall hearing that the person behind the ‘like’ function of Facebook legitimately just saw it as a nice way for people to show others what they like, or a way to positively react on things – it turned out that it had/has a huge negative impact on social congnition, such as teenagers, especially girls unfortunately, developing depression.


Image source: Much_Difference, Jussi Savolainen

Most moral panics?

Stranger Danger: convincing people in the 1970-90s that hundreds of thousands of American children were being yoinked into random cars by evil strangers each year, while downplaying and underfunding the resources that could actually help decrease child abduction.

Child abductions not only never came anywhere near those huge numbers, but it was and still is nearly always a custodial issue or a very close family member. Teaching people to be wary of kidnapping is great; directing all their fears toward vague spooky strangers and not helping people learn how to *actually* prevent kidnapping is kinda s**t.


Image source: scootarded, Kelly

Haiti did not have cholera. A disastrous earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, after the earthquake humanitarian forces from the UN arrived to help, and the Nepalese contingent reintroduced Cholera to Haiti. This epidemic has since infected approximately 850,000 people and killed over 10,000.


Image source: Twokindsofpeople, xMizLitx

Since the abysmal performance of American schools has been in the news recently, “No Child Left Behind” and it’s replacement “Every Student Succeeds Act”

America has never had really good public education, but it used to be serviceable. NCLB came in to try and create some milestones and accountability. Instead it made the problem worse. ECSS came in and tried to address it’s problems, but changed the stuff that wasn’t the problem and left the bad parts unscathed.

Taken all together 57% of highschool GRADUATES can’t read at a 7th grade reading level and over a quarter are functionally illiterate.

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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good intentions, good intentions bad results, good intentions gone wrong, the road to hell is paved with good intentions
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