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DUST ISSUE 21 ‘EPITOME’ – The term ‘Epitome’ stems from the Greek epitemnein, which means ‘to cut short’. First used in 1520, originally meaning ‘summary’, the term has later come to describe someone or something that represents the ideal characteristics of an entire class—a perfect example of something, an embodiment of an abstraction. The reason we chose ‘Epitome’ as a title for this issue, is that the term sheds light on how we cope with our identity in the digital age—in a context where social media has transformed communication into permanent public performances, ‘epitome’ describes the process of becoming a reduced idea, an embodiment of a type, an idea, an aspiration, or a social-political point of view based on simplicity and digestibility. A fast digestible and desirable ‘epitome’ is likely to generate virality. Willingly or not, we succumb and conform to this mindset—a feature that these platforms enhance by design. The broader topic of concern we want to address here is how social media platforms, that rely heavily on engagement-driven architectures, have come to harm our societies by directly increasing polarisation in public opinion and politics. The second reason why we choose ‘Epitome’ to bear this issue’s title is that while the magazine is entering its second decade, we took time to look back at our journey and reflect on its defining characteristics. This issue developed as a summary of what DUST has been through the years.