Human relationships didn't work anyhow. Only the first two weeks had any zing, then the participants lost their interest. Masks dropped away and real people began to appear: cranks, imbeciles, the demented, the vengeful, sadists, killers. Modern society had created its own kind and they feasted on each other. It was a duel to the death--in a cesspool.
Once, in a three-day taping that included several sadists, the material was so overwhelming that both the film crew and I got sick - I with a sinus infection, and the entire film crew with a flu so severe they had to delay their departure from the motel. Our immune systems had weakened, I believe, from the beating out souls had taken.
Anna C. Salter
The question we should be asking is not why people are sometimes cruel, or even why a few people are usually cruel (all evidence suggests true sadists are an extremely small proportion of the population overall), but how we have come to create institutions that encourage such behavior and that suggest cruel people are in some ways admirable-or at least as deserving of sympathy as those they push around.
Sadists of Mlle Vinteuil's sort are creatures so purely sentimental, so naturally virtuous, that even sensual pleasure appears to them as something bad, the prerogative of the wicked. And when they allow themselves for a moment to enjoy it they endeavour to impersonate, to identify with, the wicked, and to make their partners do likewise, in order to gain the momentary illusion of having escaped beyond the control of their own gentle and scrupulous natures into the inhuman world of pleasure.
Some of my unhappiest moments have been in organizations. Somehow it seems to be quite respectable to do things in organizations that you would never do in private life. I have had people insult me to my face in front of colleagues. I have had my feelings rammed down my throat on the pretext that it would do me good. I have been required to do things which I didn't agree with because the organization wished it... In my worst moments I have thought organizations were places designed to be run by sadists and staffed by masochists.
This digital revolutionary still believes in most of the lovely deep ideals that energized our work so many years ago. At the core was a sweet faith in human nature. If we empowered individuals, we believed, more good than harm would result. The way the internet has gone sour since then is truly perverse. The central faith of the web's early design has been superseded by a different faith in the centrality of imaginary entities epitomized by the idea that the internet as a whole is coming alive and turning into a superhuman creature. The designs guided by this new, perverse kind of faith put people back in the shadows. The fad for anonymity has undone the great opening-of-everyone's-windows of the 1990s. While that reversal has empowered sadists to a degree, the worst effect is a degradation of ordinary people.