"I wake up and have been told to kill myself like 30 times already; it's crazy!”
Social media can have its downsides -- and no one knows that better than celebrities who have millions of followers. While broadcasting their lives online has almost become part of their job description, it has also opened them to a whole lot of criticism from the public. On Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, anonymous keyboard warriors don't hold back, needlessly subjecting stars to cyberbullying.
Celebs as young as Millie Bobby Brown and Billie Eilish admit that they deal with cruel comments on a daily basis, making online bullying all-too-common. Thankfully, many of these public figures have figured out a way to cope with the constant trolls -- but at the end of the day, the way these bullies conduct themselves online is completely unacceptable.
Here's what these stars had to say about online bullying…
Following Millie Bobby Brown's rapid rise to fame, she found herself facing relentless online bullying. Things got so bad that she had to seek therapy and deleted a majority of her social media accounts. Even now, Millie doesn't have any apps on her phone and someone else handles her Instagram and Facebook pages.
"It's really hard to be hated on when you don’t know who you are yet. So it’s like, 'What do they hate about me? 'Cause I don't know who I am.' It's almost like, 'Okay, I'm going to try being this today.' [And then they say], 'Oh, no, I hate that.' 'Okay. Forget that. I'm going to try being this today.' 'Oh, my God! I hate when you do that.' Then you just start shutting down because you're like, 'Who am I meant to be? Who do they need me to be for them?' Then I started to grow more, and my family and friends really helped. It helped to be able to understand that I don't need to be anything they said that I need to be. I just have to develop within myself. That's what I did," Millie told Allure.
When Selena Gomez began acting, there was virtually no social media. But as her career progressed, she began to often deal with online bullying. And as someone who was once the most followed person on Instagram, she says dealing with negativity on social media just can't be avoided sometimes.
"I delete the app from my phone at least once a week. You fixate on the [negative] ones. They’re not like, 'You're ugly.' It’s like they want to cut to your soul. Imagine all the insecurities that you already feel about yourself and having someone write a paragraph pointing out every little thing, even if it's just physical," Selena told The New York Times.
Former Little Mix member Jesy Nelson has been incredibly open about the cyberbullying she's faced throughout her career, which she says began almost immediately after she appeared on "X Factor" for the first time. Even after the group won the competition, Jesy says she was met with a barrage of messages that said things like "you are the ugliest thing I've seen in my life" and "you deserve to die." Jesy says she didn't even enjoy her early years in the band and after losing weight in the hopes that the comments would cease, she was devastated to discover it didn't stop the trolls. Things got so bad that she attempted to take her own life.
"I was sat in bed crying, thinking, 'This is never going to go, I'm going to feel sad for the rest of my life, so what is the point in being here?' The only way I can describe the pain is like constantly being heartbroken. I remember going to the kitchen and I just took as many tablets as I could. Then my ex, who was with me at the time, he woke up and was like, 'why are you crying?' I kept saying, 'I just want to die,'" Jesy said in her "Odd One Out" documentary.
After briefly being hospitalized and turning to therapy, Jesy says she's doing better now and actually feels bad for trolls that have nothing better to do with their lives. She hopes that sharing her experience can help others who have also been affected by cyberbullying.
Billie Eilish has grown up in the spotlight and she admits that she's let bullying on social media "ruin her life" more than once. Back in 2020, she revealed that the hate she was facing online was at an all-time high, which caused her to decide to stop reading comments on social media.
"I've stopped reading comments fully...It's weird. The cooler the things you get to do, the more people hate you. Cancel culture is insane. The Internet is a bunch of trolls, and the problem is a lot of it is really funny. It's anything for a joke. People say anything to make people laugh. It's insane that I have ever been reading comments. I should've stopped long ago but the problem is I've always wanted to stay in touch with my fans, and people have ruined that for me and for them. That sucks. I still try to like fan posts. If I see fans anywhere I just want to talk to them. They're people, they're me. They're like friends of mine, but the Internet is ruining my life, so I turned it off," Billie said at the time.
Ariel Winter has been in the spotlight since she was a child and even as a pre-teen, she faced negative comments about her appearance online. Through the years, things got worse, with online trolls shaming her about her body and her appearance. She spent years trying to change herself in order to stop the bullying but eventually realized she can't please everyone.
"I spent a lot of years trying to figure out who I wanted to be, what I wanted to look like -- if I did this would people stop...if I did this would people stop. Over the years I kind of just learned there's nothing, with not even just body image, that you will be able to do to please everybody….The only person that you need to take into account is yourself because at the end of the day, it's just us. We have everyone around us -- people that we're super close to -- but at the end of the day, the opinion that matters most, that should be the most valuable one, is your own," Ariel told "Good Morning America."
After Kelly Marie Tran made her debut in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," she quickly began to receive hateful and racist comments on social media. Over time, Kelly says she started to believe their words -- and it eventually got to a point that she decided she could no longer be online. She deleted her accounts and says she's been "so much happier," even if she is missing work opportunities.
"If someone doesn't understand me or my experience, it shouldn't be my place to have to internalize their misogyny or racism or all of the above. Maybe they just don't have the imagination to understand that there are different types of people living in the world," Kelly told The Hollywood Reporter.
"Saturday Night Live" alum Leslie Jones has faced some really hateful and racist comments online throughout her career. While she used to respond directly and call out haters, she now says she doesn't bother because she knows who she is.
"When this stuff started happening...what was upsetting was that it was a bunch of people with evil as their goal. It wasn't like they were joining together to say some nice things to me. They were joining together in evil. To do something. That's what upsets me. I was like, 'Oh my God, they're believing in what they're sending to me.' But let me tell you something about me. I don't let it live there. I know who I am and I know who they are," Leslie said, adding, "If you're getting bullied right now, please take a second to step back and go, 'This is not real ... this is not a reality.'"
During his time in One Direction, Zayn Malik says he was on the receiving end of aggressive online comments that said "nasty things" and compared him to a terrorist. While he was able to shrug it off, he says it began to affect him when the comments were directed toward his family.
"You can say whatever you want about me, I’m not really bothered. But when it starts to upset people I care about or I hear about it from my mum, then that’s a problem. I thought we’d moved forward. If that was said to me on the street or if someone said it to me to my face or whatever then something could be done about it," Zayn told The Sun.
Back in 2014, Ciara penned an open letter on her blog, condemning those who cyberbully other people. She called out those who use their anonymity to tear some people down, like those in the comment section of her Instagram posts. While she knows she could fight back and directly call out the haters, she says she has no reason to.
"People sure do have a lot of courage when they are anonymous. It's like a 'Who Can Say the Nastiest Comment Game.' I click onto some of the comments from something as fun as an Instagram post that you’re sharing with your fans, and a person finds a way to turn a positive post into a negative. I think to myself, 'I could pick this person apart so bad but what for? Why act ugly like them?' It honestly takes the fun out of it when people seem so miserable," Ciara shared.
Madison Beer has gotten candid about the aggressive harassment she's received online, even when she first started her music career as a young teenager. She says that while she knows it comes with the territory, it shouldn't have to be that way.
"I wake up and have been told to kill myself like 30 times already; it's crazy! It's definitely what comes with it, and a lot of people say, 'Yeah, but this is what you signed up for.' I think that's such a shame to say. It shouldn't come along with me making music and following my dreams. It's upsetting those two go hand-in-hand now because of social media," she said on the Z100 Morning Show.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (just dial 988) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.