Deindividuation is what happens when we get behind the wheel of a car and feel moved to scream abuse at the woman in front who is slow in turning right. It is what motivates a responsible father in a football crowd to yell crude sexual hatred at the opposition or the referee. And it's why under the cover of an alias or an avatar on a website or a blog – surrounded by virtual strangers – conventionally restrained individuals might be moved to suggest a comedian should suffer all manner of violent torture because they don't like his jokes, or his face. Digital media allow almost unlimited opportunity for wilful deindividuation. They almost require it.
PUBLISHED: July 24, 2011
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3808 words)
For a long while after David Foster Wallace's death, his widow Karen Green couldn't make any art at all, wondered if she ever would again, but eventually, tentatively, she developed the idea for her conciliatory Heath-Robinson. "The forgiveness machine was seven-feet long," she says, "with lots of weird plastic bits and pieces. Heavy as hell." The idea was that you wrote down the thing that you wanted to forgive, or to be forgiven for, and a vacuum sucked your piece of paper in one end. At the other it was shredded, and hey presto.
PUBLISHED: April 10, 2011
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4645 words)