#Opinion

Aamir Khan Quits Social Media To “Drop Pretence.” Will The Rest Of Us Ever Be Able To?

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Aamir Khan quits social media: He has never been an avid member of the photo-snapping, the vacation-oversharing crowd that takes residence on the internet. And so, Mr Perfectionist has decided to “drop the pretence” of ever really having been on it. While thanking fans for the outpouring of birthday wishes from a day ago, Khan slipped in a smart goodbye message to the online world on Monday.

“Considering that I am SO active anyway, I have decided to drop the pretence,” he wrote in an emoji-charged final statement. All film promotional content, which is what most Bollywood stars use the bigger chunk of their social media for, will now be directed on a fresh ‘Aamir Khan Productions’ account, he said.

Khan’s Instagram account holds a mere 147 posts: an admirable feat for someone – no less someone from an industry always jazzed on flamboyant display – who had been on the platform since August 2018. Where his colleagues aren’t shy of unloading post after post on our timelines about what they ate, where they are, how their hair looks, Khan chose to limit his influential status to the screens, on which too he appears selectively.

It makes one wonder: Has Khan chanced upon the ultimate, but indigestible, truth of life that it is possible to exist without a social media presence? Can his film industry colleagues ever replicate his restraint?

Aamir Khan Quits Social Media: A Leaf From His Book To Borrow?

A sweet childhood picture throwback here, a public interest social good message there, and a bunch of film promotions everywhere: this is what Khan’s now flatlined Instagram account comprises of. There wasn’t much voice, not much opinion – especially not since that infamous “intolerance” remark he made in 2015 – and yet, his fans seemed to enjoy however much he let out on social media.

Khan’s choice to distinguish his ‘promotional’ account from his ‘individual’ one means something; something personal, yes, but also something largely public. It compels further wondering: Do stars shape their social media profiles as per audience interest or are our interests being shaped by what they post? Under the “pretence” of gossipy life updates, are we being fed a bigger diet of promotional content?

How much of their social media must stars ratio between what the fans want, what they themselves want, and what serves the greater good via social issues that need platforming?

Megastars like Deepika Padukone and Richa Chadha, who take on issues of depression and women’s rights routinely, also do exist. They are using their fan following for things demanding our immediate attention as a society. But that doesn’t negate the fact that social media thrives in the murky web of convenience. Padukone took a brief break after the controversy over drugs erupted in 2020 post the Sushant Singh case.

This is something that becomes apparent when one looks at the patterns of our celebrities’ social media presence. Many have in the past made tall, high-sounding claims of grand social media exits that never really come to fruition. In 2018, Farhan Akhtar proclaimed that he had deleted his Facebook account in the midst of the privacy row. The caveat is, his promotions page was left active. From Sonakshi Sinha to Kriti Sanon, a spate of more actors left social media in 2020.

It’s not like we all haven’t done that too. For the sake of our respective mental healths, a social media detox is often much needed. But the question is: How long did their sabbatical last? Until their mental peace resumed or until film promotions and paid online gigs came knocking?

And what of us? Whom is this spurious content being directed towards? Does it not come regularly since we consume it furiously? Is this the price we’re having to pay for fanfare?

There’s no baggage to Khan leaving social media. No good or bad, or even inspiration for the rest of us to “drop the pretence” and follow suit. I wish could. But the meditation of satisfaction sans social media is something I – and come on, be honest, you too – cannot afford with a finger snap. We can try getting there, in due time. The nearest, most gettable end right now is balance and tact.

Views expressed are the author’s own.