Sunday, June 20, 2021

Fatima Sana Shaikh, Warina Hussain, Amit Sadh: Pandemic blues drive actors to take a break from social media

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At a time when social media platforms are turning out to be the space for SOS calls given the worsening Covid-19 crisis, it is also losing a bit of its glitz with actors, including many such as Aamir Khan, Amit Sadh and Esha Gupta, bidding adieu to it, though not without a reason.

For some, it is the sheer frustration stemmed from people’s ignorant attitude towards the pandemic that made them opt out, while for others, it was the need to go on a digital detox and not flaunt their privileged life on social media when the rest of the world is suffering.

“The only benefit I saw was when someone reached out to me and I used my platform to help raise money for a Covid patient, as did others. Other than that, it has its drawbacks and advantages, with the disadvantages outnumbering the advantages in my opinion,” says actor Warina Hussain, who announced her departure from social media on April 24.

She credits Aamir Khan — who quit social media on his birthday, March 14 — for nudging her in that direction. “I am not a regular user of social media and have wanted to stop for a long time, but no one seemed to agree with me, so I eventually decided to listen to myself. But I’d say that Aamir sir’s decision to leave social media gave me the courage to do so as well,” explains Warina, adding that the biggest reason was that she doesn’t want “algorithms to rule my life”.

While Aamir “dropped the pretence and” to go back to the earlier way of communicating, his Dangal co-star, Fatima Sana Shaikh shared her decision without stating any reason. Actor Esha Gupta, too, is on a break, but her team continues to share “verified information” to help people amid the Covid crisis.

According to actor Samir Soni, who keeps on taking these breaks from the virtual world, the space has turned out to be “confusing”, with the growing number of trolls and hate mongering.

“Recently, I took a break because I just didn’t feel that I had anything to add. Especially with this Covid thing, it has its pluses and minuses, and it doesn’t get who’s saying what,” says Soni, confessing that he likes to take regular breaks.

“I’m posting a little bit now, more like reposting stuff. But I feel Instagram is more for youngsters. I was on Twitter, but then trolls got onto it, and that’s why I stopped. Then, I was on Instagram, but sometimes it just feels a little silly,” he admits.

It was the crisis and how people are using social media to show off their “privileged life” that made actor Amit Sadh take a break from the digital world in April. “I just decided to stop posting about my life and how everything is so perfect because this isn’t the right time to flaunt our privileges,” he reasons, adding that going offline doesn’t mean “detaching from or abandoning my fans”.

In fact, it has become another addition to the growing 2020 deja-vu list. Last year, actors Sonakshi Sinha, Aayush Sharma, Zaheer Iqbal, Saqib Saleem, filmmakers Shashank Khaitan and Shoojit Sircar logged out of Twitter because of toxicity and negativity.

According to psychotherapist Radhika Bapat, trolling is the biggest reason driving celebs off social media, as they “aimlessly put in a comment that is uncivil or ridiculous”.

Another reason, she adds, is the overwhelming number of people who connect with these celebs expecting immediate responses. “When these responses aren’t given, people get personally affected and attribute the lack of response to the celebrity being uncaring or rude, even though that may be untrue,” explains Bapat.

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