US pop icon-turned-actress Selena Gomez warned on Wednesday that social media had been “terrible” for her generation, saying she tried to set a good example for her 150 million followers on Instagram.
Speaking after her politically charged zombie flick, Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, opened the Cannes film festival, Gomez said the tools that helped make her famous were destructive in the wrong hands.
“I think that our world is going through a lot obviously. What Jim (Jarmusch) gestured to in the film is that social media has really been terrible for my generation,” Gomez, 26, told a news conference.
Her comments come as a Malaysian teenager took her own life after posting a poll to Instagram poll asking if she should live or die.
The 16-year-old from Kuching in eastern Sarawak state died after posting the poll on Monday on the Facebook-owned platform.
Gomez also warned about the fake news rampant on social media.
“I understand that it’s amazing to use your platform but it does scare me when you see how exposed these young girls and young boys are,” she said.
“They are not aware of the news. I think it’s dangerous for sure if people aren’t getting the right information sometimes.”
Gomez said pervasive internet bullying “scares” her and left many young people “devastated”.
In light of her own massive social media presence, Gomez was asked what celebrities and the industry’s biggest companies could do to make the online world less toxic.
She set out a bleak picture in front of her co-stars Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Chloe Sevigny and Tilda Swinton.
“I think it’s pretty impossible to make it safe at this point. There’s no blocking anything, they’re exposed to it immediately,” she said.
Gomez said she was “grateful” to “have a platform” and tried to use it to “share things that I’m really passionate about”.
“I also don’t do a lot of pointless pictures. I like to be intentional with it,” she said.
On her own internet use, Gomez said less was more.
“It can be great in moments but I would just be careful and allow yourself some time limits when you use it and when you shouldn’t.”
Jarmusch’s film, a tribute to the George Romero monster movies of the 1960s and 70s, depicts a small town in Trump-era America facing an infestation of flesh-eating zombies, including one played by Jarmusch friend Iggy Pop.
The siege is triggered by polar fracking which scientists say has “knocked the Earth off its axis”, even as the government’s energy secretary and large gas corporations insist it’s safe.
Gomez plays a “big city hipster” visiting the small town who falls victim to an ambush of zombies, who moan for the creature comforts they craved in life including “wifi”, “Xanax” and “chardonnay”.