The Appearance of Authority in Health and Wellbeing Media: Analysing Digital Guru Media through Lacan’s ‘big Other’

In Stefan Lawrence (ed.), Digital Wellness, Health and Fitness Influencers: Critical Perspectives on Digital Guru Media. London: Routledge. pp. 33-51 (2022)
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Abstract

Alongside the increasing popularity of digital, ‘social’ media platforms, has been the emergence of self-styled digital life-coaches, many of whom seek to propagate their knowledge of and interests in a variety of topics through online social networks (such as, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, etc.). With many of these ‘social influencers’ garnering a large online following, their popularity, social significance and cultural impact offers important insights into the place and purpose of the subject in our digital media environment. Accordingly, this chapter will examine the proliferation of digital media technologies, which, on the one hand, propose the dissolution of the subject (wearable technology, technological singularity, etc.), while on the other, provide new opportunities for discovering, ‘sharing’ and/or improving one’s ‘inner-Self’ (digital media gurus, online health and fitness regimes, etc.). It is in considering how the effects of this ‘digital subject’ redefines traditional (Cartesian) conceptions, that the relative significance of ‘Digital Guru Media’ (DGM) can be drawn. In particular, explicit attention is given to examining how our engagements with social media can be considered in relation to Lacan’s (2002) notion of the big Other and its relevance in introducing, examining and, possibly, subverting, the digital media guru.

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Jack Black
Sheffield Hallam University

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