Everywhere you go these days, most people will have their heads bent towards their smartphones, scrolling, swiping and tapping their way through the world. Many of us, including celebrities, seek distance from all that technological clutter for a variety of reasons. But try as we might, setting digital boundaries is harder than it seems (it doesn’t help that the technology you’re trying to take space from might be designed to keep you hooked).
For celebrities, the pressure to be present on social media is intense. But reading about celebrities ditching their phones or deleting their social media accounts is more common than it used to be. Here are five celebrities on their evolving relationships with technology.
In an interview with Vulture, the actress and writer explained that after co-writing an episode of Netflix’s sci-fi-ish series Black Mirror (an anthology that often portrays a dystopian, technological future not too dissimilar from our own), she decided to get a “dumb phone” that could only make calls. “I’ve gone from being slightly pondering and having a bit of a filter between me and technology to feeling like I can’t anymore,” she told Vulture.
Comedian, actor and writer Aziz Ansari told GQ in a recent interview that he’s off Instagram and Twitter, has removed the internet browser from his phone and doesn’t use email. Ansari explained that he’s taking space from technology to find inspiration offline before writing season three of his hit Netflix show Master of None. Part of this includes skipping the news feed (he says he’ll get the news from real people instead) and reading books: “I’m putting something in my mind. It feels so much better than just reading the internet and not remembering anything,” he told GQ.
The star has spoken before about the adverse effects social media can have on mental health, especially for young women, including telling Thrive Global how she took a 90-day hiatus from her phone last summer, and Vogue about how her assistant has her password to Instagram so she doesn’t have to manage it herself. In a recent interview for InStyle, Gomez explained how being so visible makes it all the more important to safeguard your space: “Because of social media, because of all the pressure that girls have, it’s so difficult,” she told InStyle. She added that while social media can be great in keeping up with friends, “it also allows people to think they need to look or be a certain way.” Plus the toxicity often present on the platforms makes it “very hard to find out who you are during all that mess and pressure,” she said.
The young up-and-coming actress and activist recently told Teen Vogue that social media “creates such unreal expectations for what we think our lives should be,” adding “I see a lot of people around my age who are really unhappy or experiencing disconnection from reality because they base so much of their existence on the internet and on interactions with people they might not even know.” Stenberg has been using a flip phone instead of smartphone and told Teen Vogue that “amid all the chaos in the world right now, it’s so important that everyone actively works to preserve their mental health so that we’re able to heal and create change.”
While Ed Sheeran recently deleted Twitter after getting tons of hate for his polarizing cameo on Game of Thrones, the singer has a history of setting boundaries with technology. As he told James Corden in a recent Carpool Karaoke episode, he doesn’t have a phone at all. He told Corden that despite the mass amounts of people contacting him, no one was actually asking how he was: “I’d wake up every morning, and there’d be like 50 messages and none of them would say, ‘Hey, how are you?’”—everyone was asking for something.
While being a celebrity has its perks—like having other people manage your Instagram for you if you want to take a break, for example—the concept of unplugging is something we can all take to heart, even if it’s only for a few hours a day. Read more on how to disconnect here.