I didn’t think it was possible for any celebrity to resist the siren song of mean internet comments, but I was proven wrong recently when singer, actor, and mental health advocate Selena Gomez admitted she’d committed to a practice of staying offline in an attempt to preserve her peace. ”I haven’t been on the internet in four and a half years,” Gomez told Good Morning America on Monday, adding, “It has changed my life completely. I am happier. I am more present. I connect more with people. It makes me feel normal.” According to her recent Vogue cover story, she largely gets her news from “an older woman that I’m really close with” and whose identity she’d prefer to keep private. I absolutely love this for her, and also…I’m very jealous?
It’s not super-realistic for me to idealize the state of being Hard Offline—I am, after all, a web writer with a job I love and a passion for recreational meme-making—but I would be lying if I said I didn’t occasionally fantasize about ending my Spectrum internet account, smashing my laptop closed for the last time, moving to a remote and hard-to-access goat farm in the middle of California’s Angeles National Forest, and settling in for a life of tea-making and poetry-reading.
If it sounds like I’m being flippant about the mental health benefits of leading a less-online existence, let me assure you: I genuinely believe in the brain-resetting power of taking at least occasional breaks from social media. Within my most treasured group chat is one friend who recently deleted Twitter from her phone and another who no longer uses the Stories function of Instagram, and those tiny tweaks to their internet consumption have already apparently made them both happier and calmer.
I am, unfortunately, Twitter-addled enough to resist such measures, but I still applaud Gomez for her measured avoidance of a feature of modern life that can add as much stress as it reduces. (I have to wonder, though: does she not even bolt upright at 4 a.m. on occasion to Google “weird pain in stomach is it appendicitis am i dying should i go to hospital”? If so, she really is my hero, and I want to spend my life learning from her.)