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The social media wellness industry, as an antidote to health anxieties in Western societies, has empowered the upsurge of the wellness influencer and has resulted in the commodification of health and identity.

The ubiquity of new media technologies and the subsequent development of societies as networked and mediated has manifested in innovative work opportunities for ordinary individuals. New media technologies, which comprise smart phones, Web 2.0, robots, social media and applications, are distinct from legacy media such as television and newspapers due to their capacity to be consumed by active users who can also generate their own content (S and L, 2013). The implications of this agency provided to users by new media technologies, namely constant access to a networked public, opens up the possibilities for innovative ways of doing business and constructing a new style of professional identity. In essence, digital culture is shaping everyday lives in significant ways. In particular, the affordances of social media have allowed users to employ the practise of “writing oneself into being” (b as cited in b, 2011, p. 43), a technique of digitally crafting a self-representation through the use of symbolic markers such as videos, photos and text. This performative act of digital produsage is often referred to as “self-branding” and has revealed itself as an effective tactic for self-promotion and income streams in the neo-liberalist, Western world. The increasing prevalence of wellness influencers on social media is one such performative working identity and is an often-profitable form of digital labour which plays out on sites such as Instagram and FaceBook and, notably, into anxieties around health. This essay will argue that the social media wellness industry, as an antidote to health anxieties in Western societies, has empowered the upsurge of the wellness influencer and has resulted in the commodification of health and identity. From a social construction of technology perspective, it will begin by positioning digital technologies as human-made, mediated and socially perpetuated apparatuses which have reshaped the nature of working identity and as manipulated effectively by users to meet their needs. It will then turn attention to the phenomena of the highly profitable wellness industry where it will situate wellness culture within the paradigm of the social media platform. Next, it will argue that technology has facilitated access to a network of wellness influencers who commoditise their identities and market themselves as an antidote to health anxieties. …


What would Orwell think?

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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

In 1946, George Orwell, the English writer, penned “Why I Write”. Orwell’s essay investigated his own motivations for why he wrote, identifying “a feeling of partisanship (and) a sense of injustice” (p. 3) as the thematic threads that preoccupied his work. Orwell recounted his experiences of authorship from childhood to adulthood, theorising four great motives for writing. He applied the motives of “sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse and political purpose” (p. 4) to all authors in varying degrees and, in the modern context of writing on the Web, these motives still hold relevance. As a media form, the Internet has powerfully re-framed the notion of the author and authorship. Its interactive ecology provides accessible space for a critical mass to collaborate and participate in public discourse with “political purpose” (Orwell, 1946, p. 4). The concept of traditional authorship is challenged online as blogging and social media offer authorial control to anyone with an internet connection. The democratisation of the media in this way challenges legacy media, such as television and newspapers, signalling the rise of the “active audience” (Hartley, Burgess and Bruns, 2013, p. 2006) and scrutinising the role of the legacy media “gatekeepers”. To quote Barthes (1968), the rise of collaborative writing and comment culture signifies the “birth of the reader (which) must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (p. 148). This essay is framed by Orwell’s four great motives as it analyses how the blog, as a collaborative and participatory online platform, affects the way we approach our writing on the web. …


The changing relationship between business, the state, and consumers in the digital age.

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Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

Human advances in technology and the desire for global connectivity birthed the Internet and its complex and decentralised backbone of platforms, data packets and infrastructure. The exponential growth of our online and increasingly mediated world reveals a landscape where vast numbers of the global population use the Internet as the primary medium to socialise, politicise and to conduct business (Freedman, 2016, p. 85). Designed to connect us, the Internet has become a site for technological innovation that can at once benefit consumers and challenge their ethics. The study of the Internet from an economic viewpoint reveals two perspectives. The first is a utopian idea held by many digital enthusiasts. …


Post-colonial challenges and innovative digital practice

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https://pixabay.com/vectors/australian-aborigines-flag-28581/ Public Domain

The engineering of positive representations of non-Indigenous Australians of European descent in the Australian mainstream media reflects the dominant, post-colonial value systems that underpin modern Australian life. These values are woven through legacy media forms such as film, television and print news and inform the “economic and cultural policy” of modern Australia (Williams, 2004, p. 739). The Internet, as a global, mass archive of knowledge and social practice, is laden with a post-colonial value system which Brabazon (2001) describes as “invisible” and a “structuring grammar for social truths” (p. 3). Similarly, Duarte and Belarde-Lewis (2015) emphasise that “how we structure our knowledge shapes who, what, and how we can know” (p. 684). SNSs, and FaceBook more specifically, are often celebrated as spaces for cultural expression and collective empowerment (Jarrett, 2008). However, scholarship into the field of online networked communities identifies that not all sectors of society have equal access and participation in this space. Once a promoter of Web 2.0 as an agent of democratisation, Henry Jenkins (2014) shifts his perspective to advocate for a systematic broadening of participation and to “push back” against corporatisation and government control of the Internet (p. 290). Despite the potential for SNSs to transcend economic, political and cultural boundaries, for Indigenous Australian users, post-colonial ways of presenting and managing knowledge continue to present challenges in the online world. This paper will begin by providing context to the Indigenous Australian experience in modern Australia and the ways in which this intersects with access to the Internet. It will then discuss the many forces at play within SNSs and some of challenges faced by Indigenous Australian users when participating in these online communities, specifically in the areas of social capital and identity and intellectual property and cultural protocols. …

About

Bec Allen

Bec is an Arts Worker and Media Educator who works with young people in the remote Western Australia https://www.curiouswill.net/

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