It’s no secret that I have a bit of a mom crush on Chrissy Teigen. She’s a celebrity that just seems to show up for moms in the real, honest and vulnerable way that we all need. She’s also the clap-back queen, delivering scathing rebukes to anyone who crosses her with misogynistic comments on social media.
So, I was as shocked as anyone when Teigen announced to her 13.7 million followers that she’s leaving Twitter.
“Hey. For over 10 years, you guys have been my world. I honestly owe so much to this world we have created here. I truly consider so many of you my actual friends,” she wrote on Thursday. “But it’s time for me to say goodbye. this no longer serves me as positively as it serves me negatively, and I think that’s the right time to call something.”
Teigen said that despite her reputation as a fearless crusader on the internet, standing up for herself and others constantly had taken a toll on her.
“My life goal is to make people happy. The pain I feel when I don’t is too much for me. I’ve always been portrayed as the strong clap back girl but I’m just not. Live well, tweeters. Please know all I ever cared about was you.”
With that, Teigen deleted her Twitter, although her Instagram (where she has more than 34 million followers) is still active.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the way we interact with social media. In February I published a story about my family’s six-month RV trip around the country (which I’ve also written about for TrulyMama). The story got a lot of attention and brought more than 2,000 new followers to my Instagram, where I detail the trip.
While lots of people messaged me with support, talking about their own family trips or memories from similar journeys as children, there was also so much hate. When I opened my social media and inbox I was afraid, on edge knowing I might catch a nasty message about how I was ruining my children or single handedly spreading COVID around the country.
I’ve been writing online for ten years, and I know how nasty the comments can be. Before publishing the story, my editor asked if I was sure I wanted to share my story in a very public way — something he asks everyone. I thought I was ready, but I was shocked by how emotionally draining the whole experience was.
Even before publishing that story, I had been listening to journalist and author Jo Piazza’s brilliant podcast Under The Influence. In the series, Piazza looks at influence culture on Instagram, the way that some women market their families and lives on the platform, while other women delight in tearing them down.
Her latest episode took a look at the impact that internet hate can have on the real people behind the picture-perfect Instagram accounts.
“I called this week’s episode BURNING CATS after the 18th century practice of burning live cats for entertainment. Now we burn women,” Piazza explained on her own Instagram.
After Teigen’s announcement, Piazza shared her thoughts.
“I can’t believe we released an episode on toxic Internet hate for UNDER THE INFLUENCE the same day that the ultimate mom on social quit Twitter because of harassment online,” she wrote. “I feel terrible that @chrissyteigen had to do this, but I understand. This has to stop. The Internet is a nasty place to be a woman and I think a lot of people hide behind comments and forget there is a real human being behind these social accounts who reads everything people write about them.”
In the comments on Piazza’s post, other women reflected on their instinct to be nasty to other people, particularly women, online.
“We really are programmed to tear each other down. Now that I have a teenage daughter I’m seeing it even more clearly,” one commenter wrote.
The promise of social media is to bring people together, but too often we use it to keep people apart. If even Chrissy Teigen can’t handle the hate, it’s time to start rethinking how we approach social media, and how we can create a more supportive internet.
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