20 Celebrities Talk About Social Media Anxiety and Why They Quit the Internet
It can be the words of strangers that cut the deepest, especially when you are in the spotlight. Celebrities give us unprecedented access to their lives through their posts, images, and tweets that allow us to sip the sweet nectar of fame and fortune. The downside is, some people get too addicted to sugar, and social media becomes a double-edged sword of bullying, hate, harassment, and stones.
It's no wonder, these 20 celebrities have spoken out about the darkness that lurks behind Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — and why they've signed off.
Selena GomezKnown for putting her mental wellness before anything else, the "Lose You To Love Me" star is no stranger to leaving social media behind to focus on her wellbeing.
Back in May, Gomez spoke out about the dangers that she has seen firsthand on social media.
“I think our world is going through a lot. I would say for my generation, specifically, social media has really been terrible. It does scare me when you see how exposed these young boys and young girls are. They are not aware of the news. I think it’s dangerous for sure. I don’t think people are getting the right information sometimes,” she said.
In the past, the former Disney Channel star has pointed out that she often deletes Instagram off of her phone. Speaking to the New York Times, she said, “You can’t avoid it sometimes. I delete the app from my phone at least once a week. You fixate on the [negative] ones. They’re not like ‘You’re ugly.’ It’s like they want to cut your soul. Imagine all the insecurities that you already feel about yourself and having someone write a paragraph pointing out every little thing — even if it’s just physical."
Lili ReinhartThe Riverdale actress announced last December that she was taking a break from Twitter.
“Do people on Twitter ever get tired of being so negative and disrespectful to literally everyone and everything? Are they really that miserable?” she wrote in a series of messages that she posted to her Instagram Story.
“There’s hate everywhere, but especially on Twitter. It’s like a cesspool for evil 15-year-olds who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about and have nothing better to do,” she continued. “Taking a break from that toxic site and the people on it who feel the need to constantly attack me, my cast mates, my relationship, and Riverdale.”
Days later, Lili took to her Instagram once again to respond to anyone who might have something to say about her stepping away from the app.
“Unless you’re personally experiencing it, you could never understand how it feels to have thousands of people spewing hate at you constantly. I am not taking a break from Twitter because of one person’s opinion. As a whole that site is not good for my mental health, and it isn’t benefitting me anymore. THAT is why I’m taking a break. And before you think about saying something ignorant like ‘she can’t handle criticism,’ just try to imagine thousands of people sending you hateful, critical messages all day long, as if their opinion on your life matters,” Lili shared. “Then ask yourself if you think being on Twitter would be a ‘healthy’ choice at that point. I feel stupid for even having to explain myself, but there’s too much ignorance and negativity out there to not say something. That’s just who I am.”
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Kelly Marie TranFollowing the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Vietnamese-American actress Kelly Marie Tran was thrown almost infamously into months and months of racist and sexist online harassment for her portrayal of Rose in the film. As many of her costars came to her aid, Tran spoke out for the first time in a New York Times op-ed three months later: “It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” she wrote.
“Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of colour already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories.
And those words awakened something deep inside me — a feeling I thought I had grown out of. The same feeling I had when at nine, I stopped speaking Vietnamese altogether because I was tired of hearing other kids mock me. Or at 17, when at dinner with my white boyfriend and his family, I ordered a meal in perfect English, to the surprise of the waitress, who exclaimed, “Wow, it’s so cute that you have an exchange student!
Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life: that I was 'other,' that I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t good enough, simply because I wasn’t like them. And that feeling, I realize now, was, and is, shame, a shame for the things that made me different, a shame for the culture from which I came from. And to me, the most disappointing thing was that I felt it at all.”
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Camila CabelloIn an interview with Apple Music’s Beats 1 Zane Lowe, the “Senorita” songstress said that to live her best life, she must protect herself from the negative aspects of social media.
“You know what’s so funny? I’m not on social media. I post, but I haven’t had Twitter on my phone for three years,” she explained. “I do it to protect my energy. I intensely just want to live the best life that I can and be the best artist I can be. I can’t do that if I care about what people think. I can’t do that if I’m trying to please.”
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez“Social media poses a public health risk to everybody,” the New York Democrat Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview on Yahoo News' “Skullduggery” podcast. “There are amplified impacts for young people, particularly children under the age of three, with screen time. But I think it has a lot of effects on older people. I think it has effects on everybody. Increased isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism.”
Ocasio-Cortez prefaced her comments by stating she had cut back on her personal Facebook, account even though she still maintains campaign accounts while connecting with her followers mainly on Twitter and Instagram, advising against the ill effects of social media.
“I’ve started to kind of impose little rules on myself,” she added. “Like every once in a while, you’ll see me hop on Twitter on the weekends, but for the most part, I take consumption of content — when it comes to consumption and reading — I take the weekends off.”
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Normani KordeiFormer Fifth Harmony member quit Twitter back in August 2016 after being attacked online.
"I've been racially cyberbullied with tweets and pictures so horrific and racially charged that I can't subject myself any longer to the hate,” wrote the “Motivation” singer.
"I'm not the first black female celebrity to deal with this, and I'm sure I won't be the last.”
"Hiding behind a computer and putting people down, especially for the colour of their skin doesn't make you cool; it makes you a coward.”
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Justin BieberLike his ex, Selena Gomez, Bieber had put social media on the back burner when the adverse effects of the apps took place.
In 2016, Bieber took to his Instagram and said, "I'm gonna make my Instagram private if you guys don't stop the hate this is getting out of hand.”
"If you guys are really fans, you wouldn't be so mean to people that I like.” And he isn’t wrong.
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Pete DavidsonFollowing his break-up with fiancé, Ariana Grande, Davidson sent out an alarming message on his Instagram Story: “I really don’t want to be on this earth anymore. I’m doing my best to stay here for you, but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last,” the Saturday Night Live star wrote. “All I’ve ever tried to do was help people. Just remember I told you so,” he added with a single red heart emoji.
Previously in July 2018, the comedian completely wiped the content off of his Instagram, stating, “No, there’s nothing wrong… I just don’t wanna be on Instagram anymore. Or on any social media platform,” he wrote. “The internet is an evil place, and it doesn’t make me feel good… I love you all, and I’m sure I’ll be back at some point. your neighborhood goon, Pete.”
Ed SheeranDespite being more active on Instagram since the release of his newest album, No.6 Collaborations Project, the Grammy winner once embarked on a year-long break from the photo-sharing platform back in 2015.
“I’ve had such an amazing ride over the last five years, but I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes, so I’m taking this opportunity of me not having to be anywhere or do anything to travel the world and see everything I missed,” he posted on Facebook.
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Ariana GrandeWhile also reeling from her breakup with comedian Pete Davidson, the “No Tears Left To Cry” vocalist announced on her Instagram Story, she was taking a break from social media to avoid harmful news bites.
“Time to say bye bye again to the Internet for just a lil bit. It’s hard not to bump news and stuff that I’m not trying to see right now. It’s very sad and we’re all trying very hard to keep going. Love you. And thank you for being here always."
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Demi LovatoLovato has always been bravely outspoken about her struggles with addiction, mental health illnesses and body image. It’s no surprise that she has also then taken time away from the Internet to recharge whenever needed. Most recently, in the summer, Lovato signed offline on the heels of standing up for her new manager, Scooter Braun, during his highly-publicized battle with Taylor Swift over his purchase of her masters.
“Taking a break. Be kind,” wrote the 27-year-old Lovato in an Instagram Stories post upon her departure.
"What people don't realize is, I'm an extremely sensitive person," the “Stone Cold” singer revealed last monthat the 2019 Teen Vogue Summit about the role social media plays in her life.
"When someone says something mean about me or makes a meme making fun of me, I have a good sense of humour. But when it's a very serious subject it can be hurtful.” Lovato then gave an example of an internet troll that she has previously dealt with. "Even if you have an account that's like 'ImaDemiFan,' that's the name, and you leave one comment that said 'You look like Lord Farquaad with that hair.' I'm like, 'Damn, that kind of sucks,'" she continued. "I'm so tired of pretending I'm not human. When you say stuff, it affects me. I try not to look, but I see it."
"When I'm able to see both sides, it pulls me out from zeroing in on the negative," she said. "But I'm human and I think that's important to remember."
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Millie Bobby BrownBack in 2018, the 15-year-old Stranger Things actor left Twitter on the heels of being subjected to homophobic memes.
"I have dealt with situations both in real life and online that are soul breaking and it genuinely hurts reading some of the things people have said," Brown began in an interview with Orlando Bloom for GLAMOUR UK.
“Social media is one of the best places in the world and one of the worst — it counteracts itself. It sends such amazing messages; it raises awareness of situations that need to be heard. Nobody should say it isn’t a platform for positivity and change. But then there are some really heartbreaking things to happen on social media and I have dealt with a lot of bullying online. I want to make it a happy place.”
“I want to combat the negativity on social media — I have experienced it — it’s like a disease. It’s negative hate that is genuinely so horrifying to me.”
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Julia RobertsThough Roberts only recently joining Instagram, she once spoke out against the qualms of social media back in 2013 with Marie Claire.
“[Social media is] kind of like cotton candy: It looks so appealing, and you just can’t resist getting in there, and then you just end up with sticky fingers, and it lasted an instant… There’s an anonymity that makes people feel safe to participate in hatefulness. I like a good old-fashioned fistfight if people are pissed off at each other. I just feel like if you’re really mad and want to have a fight, then put your dukes up.” she said.
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Elizabeth Olsen“I don’t [use] social media, and I feel like that’s how people control their image,” she explained during her cover interview with Fashion in May 2015.
“My image, in my mind, is just to disappear. I just want people to see the work that I’m proud of. I feel like you let people touch you when you have Instagram or Twitter, and I don’t want to be touched all the time. I’m not going to do it — ever.”
Mila Kunis“What I do and who I am are two different things and, to me, it was always really important to keep those things separate,” Kunis told The Daily Telegraph. “I don’t want people thinking they know me to the point where they feel comfortable coming in my house without being invited. For security reasons, [being on social media] just wasn’t worth it. I’d rather have my privacy.”
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Kristen Stewart“When you speak to someone on the phone, that is a decipherable, understandable exchange. But with text and social media, it’s essentially a dialogue with yourself and your interpretation of a shadow,” she she told V Magazine for their V106 Free Spirit Issue.
“It’s not invalid; it’s a new language… But you also become addicted to that hit by yourself and with yourself, every seven minutes or so, and you end up wasting so much time just validating something very superficial in yourself. It has definitely changed us.”
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Emma Stone“It’s that need to be liked,” Stone positioned during a panel facilitated by The Los Angeles Times and EPIX’s five-part TV series Hollywood Sessions, “that need to be seen, that need to be validated, in a way, through no one that you know. And so, people ask the question about fame, or what it feels like, and it seems like everybody knows what that feels like. It seems like everyone’s cultivating their lives on Instagram or on different forms of social media, and what pictures looks best of their day.”
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Daisy Ridley"I felt a pressure being on it," said the Star Wars maven at a 2016 Student Academy Awards in LA.
"I was like, 'I need to post. Oh my God, it's been this many days,’" she said. "It's actually been kind of nice not to be on it.”
"I'm 24. I have a lot of growing up to do. I have to deal with loads of stuff myself personally. For that to be projected with millions of people watching, that is like a bit of an extra pressure. I think some people handle it well. Just right now it's not for me, but who knows.”
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Leslie Jones“I feel like I'm in a personal hell. I didn't do anything to deserve this. It's just too much. It shouldn't be like this. So hurt right now,” the comedian wrote in a series of tweets defending herself against racial abuse online for her role in the all-female Ghostbusters reboot.
“I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart. All this cause I did a movie. You can hate the movie but the shit I got today…wrong.”
A few days later, Jones spoke out about the harassment she received online on Late Night with Seth Meyers, “What’s scary about the whole thing is that the insults didn’t hurt me. Unfortunately I’m used to the insults. That’s unfortunate,” she told Meyers. “But what scared me was the injustice of a gang of people jumping against you for such a sick cause.”
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Kate Winslet“[Social media] has a huge impact on young women’s self-esteem, because all they ever do is design themselves for people to like them. And what comes along with that? Eating disorders. And that makes my blood boil. And is the reason we don’t have any social media in our house,” the Titanic starlet told the Sunday Times in 2015.
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