Selena Gomez has 150 million followers on Instagram and nearly 58 million followers on Twitter. And yet on Wednesday, the pop sensation blasted the clicks that brought her fame. During a Cannes press conference for her new movie “The Dead Don’t Die,” the 26-year-old star called social media “dangerous” and “terrible for my generation.”
For us millennials, curating who we are for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and dating apps is a regular part of life.
But is it really normal for our every move to be fuel for the data hoarders of Silicon Valley?
My friends will choose a restaurant because it will make for a good Instagram picture. When we hang out, we talk about strangers whom we know intimately through our screens — say, YouTuber and beauty guru James Charles — as if they’ve just left the room.
A few weeks ago, sitting in a park with a college friend, I realized I sounded more “Portlandia” sketch than person.
“Have you read this? Did you see that?” I asked her, rattling off a list of accounts she should follow.
I was more concerned about her digital bona fides than how she was faring since moving to New York.
On a date earlier this year, I enlisted the poor guy’s help coming up with a clever Tweet to accompany an Insta Story I’d written. How fast can you type “ghosted”?
For me and the vast majority of my peers, the onslaught of dings and buzzes from our pockets alerting us to the latest celebrity move doesn’t just give us a dopamine hit. It’s also an anxiety-provoking reminder that we should be contributing to the content circus ourselves. It’s beyond Pavlovian. It’s pathetic.
We’re having fun, right? Wait, can you do that thing again, this time on camera?
We spend inordinate resources to show off our best, most “authentic” selves on our feeds — buying charcoal toothpaste, Cronuts and hair vitamins in a desperate bid for likes.
We then compare those virtual numbers to those of our real friends.
The next stop on the ride? Being gutted by legions of faceless keyboard warriors who can’t even look you in the eye while delivering a blow to your self-esteem.
Wherever this is going, it can’t be good.
Gomez’s feeds are examined by her fans with the investigative precision of a counterterrorism unit.
Mine are examined by my mother.
But fretting about sounding witty on Twitter or sufficiently ironic on Instagram stories is just as bad as being exposed for a bad Photoshop job.
The constant upkeep on our own online brands feels as if we’ve landed in a sci-fi cautionary tale. By self-censoring and obsessively curating, we are turning ourselves into cyborgs. No robot revolt necessary.
As the saying goes: “If the product is free, you’re what’s for sale.”
And yet Gomez has yet to delete her accounts — it’s an addiction we can’t kick.