How Taylor Swift Turned Social Media Stress Into Something Positive
Taylor Swift is having a moment — but when isn't she? She's co-hosting the Met Gala in 2016 and she was named #6 on Fortune's list of World's Greatest Leaders this year. And even though it seems like she is constantly riding high on top of the world, in a new profile of the 25-year old pop star in GQ by Chuck Klosterman, Tayylor Swift admits that she is always aware of the talk of the town and really used to let it get to her. Fame comes with haters, and Swift has plenty. In the interview, the "Bad Blood" singer says she didn't use social media for a long time to shield herself. And honestly, good for her.
Swift has spoken at length about her total inability to escape the "OMG she's boy crazy" fodder that has followed her and in the GQ story speaks again about the height of this in 2013, saying it led her to her decision to unplug:
I went through a few years where I just never went online and never looked at blogs. This was around 2013, when the only thing anyone wanted to write about me was about me and some guy. It was really damaging. You’re thinking, "Everybody goes on dates when they’re 22. It’s fine, right?" Nope. Not when you’re in this situation, and everything you do is blown out of proportion and expanded upon. And all of a sudden, there’s an overriding opinion that doesn’t accurately reflect how you actually live your life.
Though I totally believe in the power of social media as a tool to connect different communities and spread awareness about important issues, when it comes to the day-to-day, even for a non-global-megastar like myself, the sheer pressure, FOMO, and unrealistic expectations that come from scrolling through an Instagram feed can be exhausting and debilitating to your self-esteem. So good for Swift for taking some time to disconnect. Not that it meant that just because she wasn't liking, tweeting, or re-blogging for some time that she had sworn it off forever. Swift told Klosterman that after some time, she came back, because she recognized the importance of social media now when it comes to being a global superstar:
So I didn’t go online for a year and a half. I actually forgot my Instagram password. But now I check in and see what’s happening. In 2015, that stuff does matter. Because if enough people say the same thing about me, it becomes fact in the general public’s mind. So I monitor what people say about me, and if I see a theme, I know what that means. I’ve had it happen twice before. In 2010, it was She’s too young to get all these awards. Look how annoying she is when she wins. Is she even good? And then in 2013, it was She just writes songs about guys to get revenge. She’s boy-crazy. She’s a problematic person. It will probably be something else again this year.
Of course, some criticism about Swift is going to be valid, and I hope that now she is back on Instagram and Twitter and so on and so forth, she does digest the more serious critiques she gets and puts them toward bettering herself. But I agree with her about the damage that can be done from constantly viewing yourself through the lens of others. It's easy to lose sight of yourself when you listen to others first. Has she been problematic? Yes, absolutely. But Swift is also an incredibly successful, self-aware business woman and musician, among her many hyphenates. The GQ interview gives an insight into just how in tune she is to what is being said about her, while she tries to listen to her inner voice.
Social media is infiltrating and immersing itself into every corner of our existence, but it's not all bad. Sharing is good. But for us Normals, it's a little different. It's easier to shrug off, take a break, and unplug when there aren't thousands of thinkpieces being written about our every moves. And yes, it comes with the territory of being such a powerful musician. Klosterman brought up the binary Swift faces, saying that "even the most serious critics inevitably discuss the more tabloid aspects of your life." To this she responded,
I don’t feel there is any injustice when people expand beyond my music and speculate on who certain songs might be about. I’ve never named names, so I feel like I still have a sense of power over what people say — even if that isn’t true, and even if I don’t have any power over what people say about me.
So, if you're feeling more than a little overwhelmed in your own life because of the pressure to keep up with Instagram followers, you can take a little solace from Swift: Even if you unplug for a little bit for the sake of your mental health, the world's not gonna end, and it will probably do you some much needed good. That's a simple kind of self-care. But don't worry, fans. She's back on the social tip now, and I'm glad she's sharing (especially cat pictures).