Actress Shailene Woodley has always had a love-hate relationship with Instagram.
However, her unease with the social media app peaked when the limelight intensified during her relationship with her ex-fiancé, NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“It honestly never really struck me that millions of people around the world were actually watching and paying attention to these things. Then I dated someone in America who was very, very famous,” Woodley told Net-a-Porter in an interview published Sunday, referring to the Green Bay Packers star. Her Instagram account has a following of almost 5 million users.
The “Big Little Lies” actress said her relationship with Rodgers was her first “celebrity relationship” that brought more attention and control to her personal life. Instagram went from “fun,” Woodley said, to “hurt.”
“I’m a very private person, so I found that every time I posted something, I immediately felt like I was sharing too much of myself with people I don’t necessarily trust,” Woodley said.
After dating throughout 2020, Woodley and Rodgers announced their engagement in February 2021. When Woodley confirmed the engagement on The Tonight Show, she told host Jimmy Fallon, “This isn’t news to us. So it’s kind of funny that right now everyone’s freaking out about it and we’re like, ‘Yeah, we’ve been engaged for a while.'”
A year later, the couple called off their engagement.
Woodley called the time following her split from Rodgers “the darkest, hardest time of my life.”
“It was winter in New York and my personal life was s— so for eight months it felt like a big pain blister,” she told Net-a-Porter.
Woodley said she was already considering stepping down from Instagram because she was “allergic to people talking about things they don’t know about.” She lamented that most celebrities don’t really “read books and educate themselves about the topics they post about.”
Woodley’s disdain for social media dates back to 2014, when she revealed to Marie Claire that she had deleted her Instagram account in advance of the release of her films Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars that year.
“Everything I posted was for a story — like, ‘Look how interesting I am.’ It felt gross to me,” she said, adding that “we’re all such narcissists, and social media takes care of that.”
Then, in a 2016 interview with The Times, Woodley echoed her feelings, commenting that social media “brought out a narcissistic nature in me [needing] validation.”
She went on to question the role of social media in Hollywood and whether directors and studios were looking for actors with popularity on the apps rather than considering their talent or artistry in their craft.
Woodley eventually relaunched her account, where she regularly reported on social and political causes close to her heart, including opposition to the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Woodley was arrested in North Dakota in 2016 while protesting at the pipeline construction site.
Last August, Woodley took to social media and warned her followers that “you can’t reveal everything over the internet.”
“Instagram should be a place where we laugh at ourselves and society. don’t beat us up for it,” she wrote in a now-deleted post.
Last September, fans noticed that Woodley had deleted all of her posts.
Woodley told Net-a-Porter that since she’s scaled back her social media use, she’s been able to focus on “the smaller things,” which to her now “feel like the most extraordinary little pieces of magic on the planet.” .
Her Instagram page has just a handful of posts left, including an ad for eco-friendly sunglasses and an Instagram Live about Indigenous Peoples Day. Her most recent stories mostly feature time spent with friends — playing cards at game night, dinner at a restaurant, and Smiley FaceTime calls.