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When we go online, we commit ourselves to the care of online mechanisms. Digital Band-Aids for digital wounds. We feed ourselves into machines, hoping some algorithm will digest the mess that is our experience into something legible, something more meaningful than the “bag of associations” we fear we are. Nor do the details of our lives need to be drawn from us by force. We do all the work ourselves. We all of us love to broadcast, to call ourselves into existence against the obliterating silence that would otherwise dominate so much of our lives. Perhaps teenage girls offer the ultimate example, projecting their avatars insistently into social media landscapes with an army of selfies, those ubiquitous self-portraits taken from a phone held at arm’s length; the pose—often pouting—is a mainstay of Facebook (one that sociologist Ben Agger has called “ the male gaze gone viral ”). The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection

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