I don’t normally write about what celebrities are saying or doing, because I frankly don’t care. But there’s no denying there are plenty of people who do care, a lot, including the teens and young adults who drive trends in entertainment, style, and media technology. They might not listen to their parents, their teachers, their doctors, law enforcement officials, or anyone else wielding anything resembling authority -- but for better or worse, they do listen to celebrities.
That’s why it struck me when two young-ish celebrities took some very public swipes at social media -- and not just because someone spread a rumor that they were dead or posted unflattering gossip about them. In both cases the criticism was actually reasoned and compelling, making me wonder if their fans might not just take their advice.
This week the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported that Emma Watson -- the 23-year-old actress who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, and who is now appearing in The Bling Ring, a crime movie with a heavy social media component -- attacked social media for “shortening” childhoods and taking away the “blissful” period when girls aren’t concerned about how they look. The Daily Mail quoted Watson: “I think it’s amazing how self-aware people are becoming as a result of constantly posting images on Facebook and Instagram… their childhoods are being shortened. That period of time when you’re not self-conscious is sped up.”
Then there’s this interview with pop star Nicki Minaj, who told Teen Vogue that there is a simple solution to cyberbullying: “I tell teens, if you’re having a problem, there’s nothing wrong with deleting your social media. If people keep taunting you and you keep reading it, it’s poison.” That certainly makes interesting reading, coming from a person with 17 million followers on Twitter.
There’s already some evidence that a fair number of teens are growing weary of social media, or at least want to use it in a more measured way. In July 2012 a survey from Common Sense Media found that 43% of teens said they wished they could disconnect themselves from the Internet, and 36% said they “wish they could go back to a time before Facebook.”