While most celebrities are careful to flatter fans and court the public on social media, there’s a small but vocal subset of A-listers who have no use for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any of that nonsense, including George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, and Daniel Craig. And it’s not just the old fogies: younger celebrities are also criticizing social media for its alleged superficiality and negative psychological impacts.
In an interview appearing in the January 10 issue of the Hollywood Reporter, professional handsome guy Chris Pine (otherwise known as the new Captain Kirk), when asked whether he would ever a social network, replied: “No, f— no. What am I going to tweet about? My sneakers? Or, ‘I have 140,000 friends on Facebook.’ What does that even mean? I find it to be a waste of time. The Internet is so caustic; just a place where people get to spew nonsense and bullshit.”
Last month Keira Knightley (of "Pirates of the Caribbean" fame) caused a tempest in the social media teacup by joining Twitter for all of 12 hours before deactivating her account. Knightley explained to Harper’s Bazaar UK: “It made me feel a little bit like being in a school playground and not being popular and standing on the sidelines kind of going, ‘Argh.’” And there’s also the fact that she just doesn’t give a damn about other people: “Maybe I'm childish in that way; I just don't want to know about your life.” Nice one, Keira! Asked whether she was afraid this might make her seem haughty, Knightley was unconcerned: “No, I think that's fine... I like being private.”
Most recently Allison Williams, who has rocketed to fame as Marnie on “Girls,” told InStyle UK that she steers clear of social media because of the risk of making a fatal misstep: “It just feels so crazily permanent. You might be in a mood and tweet something out to all these strangers and then it's there forever. Even if you take it down it never goes away.”
Then there’s Chiara de Blasio, the daughter of New York City’s new mayor Bill de Blasio, who has become something of a celebrity in her own right due to her fashion statements and admission that she struggled with substance abuse. The younger de Blasio recently told TeenVogue.com that social media prevents people from, well, living: “I think technology in general has brought a lot of positive things, but it’s preventing people from really being in the moment, living the lives they would otherwise be living.”
The only reason I find this trend noteworthy is that celebrities -- whether or not they’re qualified to -- do influence young people’s thoughts and actions. And while I doubt that many people will up and quit social media because Captain Kirk called it nonsense and bullshit, teenagers hearing these sentiments may be prompted to reflect a bit on the role it plays in their lives, and perhaps even begin moderating their usage. This process will likely become part of growing up in the 21st century, similar to the media obsessions of previous generations, which dominated their teen years before assuming a more modest role in adulthood.