In many ways, Meghan Markle represents the next generation of global leadership. She doesn’t hide behind a royal title, and she has never hesitated to let her voice be heard. Recently, though, that seems to have changed.
Markle was once a major presence on social media, but that presence has now diminished to almost nothing. And this has left her biggest fans with a simple question: why did Meghan Markle abandon social media?
The answer to this question is much deeper — and much sadder —than you could ever imagine. Here is the real reason why Markle stopped posting on social media.
Meghan Markle was once a social media mogul
There are plenty of celebrities and politicians that drop off of social media without many people noticing. So, why was it so noticeable when Meghan Markle disappeared? Because she was once nothing less than a social media mogul.
Before she became royalty, Meghan Markle was a major influencer through platforms like Instagram. And this culminated in her launching a now-defunct lifestyle website called The Tig.
When Grazia reviewed the site, they found it full of Markle’s thoughts on meditation, literature, and music. It seems that before she met Prince Harry, Markle intended to be a celebrity by day and a lifestyle guru by night.
Becoming part of the royal family led to her shutting off her old Instagram and retiring her website. Later, she had a public account that was managed by professional staffers rather than Markle herself. Now, after exiting royal life and moving to America, she has become a social media ghost.
The responsibility of a large platform
So, why has Meghan Markle abandoned social media? She laid it all out in a recent video chat with Fortune.
Even before the interview turned to social media, Markle addressed the question of her voice and the potential impact it had. “Your voice matters. You realize it more when you are not able to exercise it,” she said. “And now with the platform that people have on social media to actually have that voice heard for a larger audience, I think it’s a huge responsibility.”
Now onto the topic of social media, Markle had much more to say. And it paints a rather grim vision of our social media landscape.
The dangers of obsession
On the most basic level, Markle fears the potential for social media obsession. “I’ve made a personal choice to not have any account, so I don’t know what’s out there, and many ways that’s helpful for me,” she told Fortune. “I have a lot of concerns for people that have become obsessed with it.”
She may have a point. In a 2014 study (per Psychology Today), researchers discovered that social media use is largely driven by “anxiety reduction.” Rather than using these apps for genuine pleasure, we instead become obsessed with making sure we know what is going on with the world.
Beyond this general FOMO, Markle must contend with being a major worldwide celebrity. Social media is a two-way street that subjects her to endless scrutiny and criticism. Is it any wonder she wants to close that street down?
According to Markle, social media use goes beyond obsession for certain people. And for these people, it goes into the realm of outright addiction.
“it is so much a part of our daily culture for so many people that it’s an addiction like many others,” she told Fortune. “There are very few things in this world where you call the person who is engaging with it a user.”
Again, she may have a good point here. The jury is still out on whether something like “internet addiction” or “social media addiction” should be a recognized mental disorder, although obsessive behavior with activities like online gaming is under consideration (per Psychiatry Today).
At the same time, what happens when you use social media? Most people are chasing a dopamine rush in the hopes of feeling better. If there are “users” constantly returning to chase down the “high” they once felt on social media, then “addiction” is a very appropriate description!
Meghan vs. the press
Obviously, Meghan Markle’s opinion on social media didn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s impossible to consider her statements without also considering her long and bitter struggle against the tabloid press.
The British media relentlessly attacked Meghan Markle when she first began dating Prince Harry. It got so bad that Harry had to issue a statement (via his communications secretary).
The statement was fairly excoriating. In part, it talked about how “Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment… the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”
As far back as 2016, Harry and Meghan saw how toxic the press and social media could really be. This is one reason Harry wrote a piece for Fast Company about social media creating a “crisis of hate.” Furthermore, he wrote (via NBC News), “Companies like yours have the chance to reconsider your role in funding and supporting online platforms that have contributed to, stoked, and created the conditions for a crisis of hate, a crisis of health, and a crisis of truth.”
Harry and Meghan have both spent the last few weeks calling different business leaders and trying to change the social media landscape. And it’s no surprise that Meghan would want to avoid that landscape altogether.
It turns out the primary reason behind Markle’s social media absence is also the simplest. As she told Fortune, she has avoided social media “for my own self-preservation.”
And that’s really all it takes. While Markle has a long history of being abused via the press and social media, she has never been under any obligation to engage with these trolls. And her willingness to step away from something causing her pain and distress so she can focus on what makes her happy is more than understandable. It’s downright inspirational!