Digital detox: Does it really help celebrities stay sane in the age of trolling?
If you have major FOMO (fear of missing out) and can’t picture your life without Instagram and Twitter, then it suffices to say that you’re borderline social media addict. But with addiction, comes negativity — constant trolling and bullying — a trend that has forced Bollywood stars and television celebrities to get off the digital world. While several have taken a break, some have quit it altogether.
Television actor Kavita Kaushik, popular for her role on the show FIR, quit Facebook, stating that it’s a waste of time and that she’d rather channel her energy into positive avenues in real life. Kaushik, who has now signed up for yoga classes, says social media “is just a time-guzzler. It’s all right to use it for business and marketing opportunities, but otherwise, it’s a complete waste. There’s so much to do in life but we’re trying to find happiness on screen. I had most of my relatives connected on Facebook and then I realised that it’s better to see them in real, than seeing their pictures online.”
Not just this — starting August 20, reality television personality Raghu Ram stopped airing his political views on social media owing to the negativity all around. In a disclaimer pinned to his Twitter profile, the Roadies judge says that haters will be muted. Actor Swara Bhasker tweeted on August 16: “Twitter detox for 10 days people. See u when im back! Don’t blow up the world in the meantime.. the cyber world I mean :)” The actor was back on August 28.
Actor Pulkit Samrat, who had taken a break from social media after rumours of his relationship with actor and Sanam Re (2016) co-star Yami Gautam surfaced, says, “The world of social media is made of people, just like the real world. Interestingly, in the real and the virtual world, there are all sorts of people. Sometimes, the negative ones can get to you. Sometimes, when things aren’t going well for you, social media can get stressful. And I honestly believe it’s okay to take a break from it anytime you think it’s killing your peace of mind. It’s okay to say to yourself, ‘Timeout man. This isn’t worth it right now.’”
Trade analyst Amod Mehra explains that constantly having attention on oneself can get stressful. “There can be a lot of trolling and abusing online, and when that happens, it can get annoying. It’s a tough life for actors — sometimes they don’t even get to talk to the family, leave aside Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So, it’s okay to disappear for a healthy life and take a break.”
Film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh has a slightly different take. “It all depends on person to person, and how they’d like to spend their time. Choosing to disappear can either be because of so much adversity or too much addiction. Either way, the person isn’t able to concentrate. But otherwise, it’s a great medium to voice one’s opinion.”
Celebrity image consultant Rita Gangawani feels that stars should maintain an air of mystery about their whereabouts and activity instead of being constantly present on social media. “Once upon a time, social networks were meant to connect with people, to share bad and good moments, but now this has become a platform to vent feelings, there are fans bullying the celebs, so the positive energy is just wasted. There’s one good comment, followed by hundreds of negatives,” she says.
“Everybody needs appreciation. It’s just a vicious cycle that continues — you post something, you get a negative comment, then you comment back, and then again you get trolled. So, it’s important to detox every three-four months,” she adds.
It isn’t just Bollywood or television stars in India — celebs are going off social media in the West, too. Singer-actor Miley Cyrus deleted all her posts from Instagram, and hasn’t been active on Twitter since July. Earlier singer Ariana Grande announced a break from Instagram and Twitter, and recently turned off comments. Justin Bieber put it out there that he’d make his account private if the negative comments didn’t stop.
However, long-term absences or instances where celebs have stuck to decisions have been rare. Kanye West rejoined Instagram in February 2018 after a nine-month absence. Back home, actor Sushant Singh has been rather active on Instagram after saying goodbye to Twitter in 2016, following scrutiny surrounding his split with girlfriend Ankita Lokhande. Rishi Kapoor was back in hours after going off Twitter in May 2015.
Recalling the examples of singer Ed Sheeran and model Kendall Jenner, who, too, went off social media only to return, social media professional Arpit Pruthi says, “In today’s time, the first thing we do when we wake up is check our phones, be it to check private messages or get news — we’ve just become too dependent, but the sad truth is that we can’t survive without it, which is why celebs keep coming back even after saying they’re quitting the medium.”