A mental health issue
It was too much for him: this August 14, 2022, the actor Tom Holland (26 years) announced to abandon social networks. If everyone hopes that this break is only temporary, nothing is less sure. In a video, the actor said he needed this to protect his mental health. In the space of just 11 hours, the announcement has been viewed more than 12 million times on Instagram. A figure equal to the shock for his community the Briton being followed by nearly 67.7 million followers on the same application. In his latest publication, he details the reasons that led him to make this decision that other stars like Shawn Mendes or Alessandra Sublet, have taken before him for similar reasons.
The taboo of mental health among stars and celebrities
In his video, Tom Holland thus explains that he “finds Twitter and Instagram too stimulating and overwhelming”. “I go in circles when I read about myself online,” he says, fearing for his own well-being. He also calls for his community to support their acquaintances who show signs of depression. “Asking for help shouldn’t be something we feel ashamed of,” he says, who once had a difficult time in high school, after being mocked for dancing and not playing rugby. He also takes advantage of his latest publication to promote mental health associations for teenagers, such as Stem4.
His fans heard him and support him as Justin Bieber who posted in comment “I love you man”.
Tom Holland is far from being an isolated case
Before Tom Holland, the year 2022 had already been marked by several similar withdrawals of stars from the public sphere. One of the most notable cases was that of Canadian singer Shawn Mendes, who cancelled his entire world tour at the end of July. The reason: psychologists considered his mental health too unstable, especially in the context of a sudden resumption of his media exposure after Covid.
In early August, like the actor of Spiderman, Alessandra Sublet also left the social networks. “This morning when I woke up I felt that I had to put aside social networks to focus on the present, what I really live, also focus on my projects and on what will make us meet again very quickly, I’m sure. I will not miss Instagram,” she wrote. This week, singer Selah Sue confided that she had published “her most painful post ever,” explaining that she was “going through the hell” of a chaotic mental health marked by 14 years of struggle with taking antidepressants.
The pressure that celebrities undergo on social networks
The list of celebrities withdrawing from the networks for their mental health, at least for a while, could be much longer: Stromae, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, Miley Cyrus, Cardi B, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, etc. The case of Millie Bobby Brown is also often cited. Targeted by people who wanted to destroy her reputation, she was accused by them of being homophobic. This assertion was not based on anything but it was enough to provoke massive harassment against the actress who decided to withdraw from the Internet. The sports world is also hit hard. This is evidenced by the case of Frenchman Thierry Henry, who in 2021 denounced the “considerable volume of racism, bullying and mental torture” on the networks before leaving them.
In 2018, singer Selena Gomez explained her resentment on the subject when she decided to do the same. “I’m grateful for the voice that social media gives each of us, and I’m also happy to be able to step back and live my current life. Remember, negative comments can hurt anyone’s feelings,” she said. A month later, she entered a counseling center to take care of her mental health.
As Selena Gomez noted, the relationship of celebrities with social networks has its good and bad sides. They can thus take advantage of it to strengthen the link with their fans or even take advantage of it, and this to the extreme. Some of them do not hesitate to reveal their whole life online, even in the most intimate moments. An example: in 2014, Robbie Williams revealed in detail the birth of his child during a Twitter live. More recently, reality TV stars like Kim Kardashian and many influencers have become masters of this. This is what leads to put the wave of celebrities leaving the networks into perspective. “It’s not a general movement,” says Frederic Foschiani, founder and president of the e-reputation agency QSN-DigiTal. According to him, only a few rare stars are able to hurt the social networks by criticizing them, like Rihanna who made the price of Snapchat fall on the stock market.
But who says growing popularity also says critics, hateful comments and low blows in series. Very followed on social networks, the Belgian singer Angèle has, for example, seen his bisexuality revealed by the French host Cyril Hanouna on “Touche pas à mon poste”, which has obviously not failed to impact his mental health. “He was the first person to say live that I was with a woman. My coming-out was stolen from me. I realized quite late that I was bisexual and it was complicated,” she confided in a documentary made about her.