Taylor Swift doles out sage social media advice in essay for Elle
Someone on the internet once told Swift she looked like a "weasel that got hit by a truck and stitched back together by a drunk taxidermist?" Rude!
Katie CollinsSenior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
It's unlikely that any regular human being gets anything like the influx of notifications or comments that celebrities deal with. But as Swift explains, minimizing this is more than just about keeping the constant pinging to a minimum.
"Social media can be great, but it can also inundate your brain with images of what you aren't, how you're failing, or who is in a cooler locale than you at any given moment," she said in the essay.
"One thing I do to lessen this weird insecurity laser beam is to turn off comments. Yes, I keep comments off on my posts. That way, I'm showing my friends and fans updates on my life, but I'm training my brain to not need the validation of someone telling me I look."
The question of how much of our ego and self-worth is tied up in validation from social media is relatable no matter how many, or how few followers, you might have. Whether you turn off comments and notifications or delete apps altogether for a while, everyone has their own way of getting a handle on those negative feelings -- Swift included.
"I think it's healthy for your self-esteem to need less internet praise to appease it, especially when three comments down you could unwittingly see someone telling you that you look like a weasel that got hit by a truck and stitched back together by a drunk taxidermist. An actual comment I received once," she said.
For Swift, a successful woman, abuse and negativity are sad and still unavoidable side effects of putting herself out there. Keeping comments turned off is one way to block out "anyone who might feel the need to tell me to 'go die in a hole ho' while I'm having my coffee at nine in the morning," she said.
Swift is in the top 10 most-followed people across multiple platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. But for the reasons she herself has stated, it's rare to see her engage with people directly through any of these services. Instead she tends to hang out on Tumblr, where she follows many of her fans. She often likes and sometimes comments on or reblogs their posts.
But there have been times when Swift has disappeared from the internet altogether. In her essay, she described what it feels like when it feels like the internet turns completely against you.
"A few years ago, someone started an online hate campaign by calling me a snake on the internet," she said. "The fact that so many people jumped on board with it led me to feeling lower than I've ever felt in my life, but I can't tell you how hard I had to keep from laughing every time my 63-foot inflatable cobra named Karyn appeared onstage in front of 60,000 screaming fans."
Unlike the other measures suggested by Swift, this might not be a practical solution for everyone dealing with internet bullying. But the point is to take a stand and make a statement in a way that allows you to laugh rather than feel bad about yourself.
"It's the Stadium Tour equivalent of responding to a troll's hateful Instagram comment with 'lol,'" she said.