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Metaphors of Internet

Ways of Being in the Age of Ubiquity


Edited By Annette N. Markham and Katrin Tiidenberg

What happens when the internet is absorbed into everyday life? How do we make sense of something that is invisible but still so central? A group of digital culture experts address these questions in Metaphors of Internet: Ways of Being in the Age of Ubiquity.

Twenty years ago, the internet was imagined as standing apart from humans. Metaphorically it was a frontier to explore, a virtual world to experiment in, an ultra-high-speed information superhighway. Many popular metaphors have fallen out of use, while new ones arise all the time. Today we speak of data lakes, clouds and AI. The essays and artwork in this book evoke the mundane, the visceral, and the transformative potential of the internet by exploring the currently dominant metaphors. Together they tell a story of kaleidoscopic diversity of how we experience the internet, offering a richly textured glimpse of how the internet has both disappeared and at the same time, has fundamentally transformed everyday social customs, work, and life, death, politics, and embodiment.

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Chapter Nineteen: Facebook as a Wormhole between Life and Death (Tobias Raun)



Facebook as a Wormhole between Life and Death

tobias raun

I interviewed Camilla1 on a Thursday afternoon in her home in a small town of Denmark. She had just come home from her job as a sales assistant, and greeted me with her partner in their single-family house. Camilla and I went into the living room to talk while her partner started preparing dinner. I explained to her that my research was an exploration of what mourning online is like for people, prompted by my own experience of loss and sporadic postings about it on Facebook. I had made a publicly visible request about looking for participants who had actively used Facebook as part of their mourning process, and a mutual acquaintance had shared this information with Camilla.

Even though Camilla had not been interviewed before and my explanation of the process seems fumbling and overly pedagogical to me now as I listen to the recording, it was not difficult for us to find rapport. Camilla opened up immediately, and started talking about her mother’s death three years ago, followed only two years later by Camilla’s sister’s death. They had both abused alcohol and Camilla’s mother had suffered from COPD.2 Camilla’s sister’s eating disorder-related illness had escalated when their mother died: “She just couldn’t come to ←161 | 162→terms with her death.”3 Camilla herself was especially affected by the death of her sister as they had a very close...

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