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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. …

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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