Inside Demi Lovato's Agonizing Relationship With Twitter

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“Twitter break. It’s for the best actually. Who allows me to have this thing anyways?!!! I just get myself in trouble! Haha. Anyway… BYE!” wrote Demi Lovato.

In 2012.

Few celebrities have had such a fraught relationship with Twitter than Lovato, who over the past decade has alternately used the social media service to create a singularly close bond with her fans, as a platform to express her opinions and, less intentionally, as a launchpad for all sorts of needless drama, her account alone providing a frequent reminder that no innocent tweet goes ignored when you have millions of followers and a very public persona.

Now, it’s 2019 and the blessing has again become a curse.

The “Give Your Heart a Break” singer is taking yet another break from Twitter after what at worst was a careless joke resulted in a pile-on of people firing off retaliatory tweets bringing up her history of drug use and 2018 overdose. She deleted her account last night.

Luckily, Instagram came along in 2010 to provide a space for people to explain why they just can’t deal with Twitter anymore, and Lovato used Instagram Story last night to detail her mounting frustration.

Twitter

“This break couldn’t last long enough tbh,” she wrote in one slide, followed by the 21 Savage meme she had found funny and screengrabs of the tweets condemning her for seemingly making light of what was happening to 21 Savage when she tweeted yesterday afternoon, “So far 21 savage memes have been my favorite part of the Super Bowl.”

The London-born rapper, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was detained by ICE in Atlanta for allegedly overstaying his visa and may be deported back to the U.K. Twitter soon flooded with memes joking about his Britishness, as well as the notion that the U.S. has something to fear from his British presence in our midst.

Demi Lovato via Instagram

“FYI this is the s–t I’m laughing at…not the fact that anyone is getting deported,” Lovato wrote on Instagram Story, sharing a pic of a lace-cuff-clad hand writing with a quill and ink by candlelight, purporting that that’s 21 Savage writing songs.

“And this is what people say in return?” she wrote in sharing a sampling of Twitter invective directed at her.

“Wasn’t laughing at anyone getting deported. I know that’s not a joke,” Lovato continued. “Not that I EVER laughed at that…Sorry if I offended anyone. But it’s no excuse to laugh at someone’s addiction let alone their OD.” In another slide she added, “Lastly, I wasn’t making fun on anyone having to do with deportation or even anything against him. I was laughing at who the f–k knew 21 was British? Literally no one. That’s it. It doesn’t go deeper than that. I’m sorry if I upset people truly.”

At least if anyone knows how this cycle works, it’s Demi Lovato herself.

“Social media started impacting my life when I was about 14 years old,” Lovato told Glamour in 2014, acknowledging the outsized role Twitter and Instagram had played in her own personal journey as a public figure and how it affected her body image. “I would check it obsessively, reading comments and wondering if people noticed that I’d gained or lost weight. I allowed social media to define what I thought of my body. And now I realize that no matter how thin you are, someone will call you fat. No matter how beautiful you are, someone will call you ugly. But you can’t spend your time worrying about that. You’re just not going to please the world.”

Asked how she approached Twitter, she replied, “I like to read fan comments on Twitter about my music or to see cool pictures they’ve posted. And occasionally I’ll come across a negative comment, but I just laugh it off. In the past that would have really affected me.”

And that was when people only had 140 characters to be vile.

It would be understandable if Demi is still checking Twitter today to gauge the aftermath, so perhaps this will turn out to be one of her shorter Twitter breaks if she’s heartened by the response to the response to her one tweet.

Lovato has been quitting Twitter on and off since September 2010, when, as a source told E! News at the time, people’s “mean-spirited messages” first started getting to her—and that was before she had to leave the Jonas Brothers‘ tour after reaching her breaking point at an airport in Peru. She spent two months in treatment and really did take an extended social media holiday, not resurfacing on Twitter until March 2011.

Since then, she’s witnessed every form of interaction, from unsolicited troll comments to positive and negative exchanges with fellow celebrities, to heartwarming displays of affection from fans, such as when #HowDemiHasHelpedMe started trending in the wake of her hospitalization following an overdose last July.

ABC

Lovato took the aforementioned breather in January 2012 after she and Wilmer Valderrama broke up—but just as Demi and Wilmer were meant to reunite, albeit temporarily, so were Demi and Twitter.

Her shortest break may have been the less-than-24-hours she spent away from Twitter and Instagram in June 2016, after writing, “Damn I gotta quit sayin s–t. Bye Twitter. And Insta.”

She continued, “I like Snapchat cause I don’t have to see what some of y’all say. Follow me if you want: theddlovato. But why do people actually give a f–k what I say?? Like if you don’t care the gtfo haha.”

The following day: “F–k this.. I’m back bitches,” Lovato heralded her return. “And I’m coming back more honest than ever. I love my Lovatics so f–king much…I love my Lovatics too much to leave them over some lame ass haters.. What was I thinking?!”

Demi Lovato via Instagram

There is a pattern here.

Lovato seemingly starts each Twitter day with a fresh outlook on cyber-life. She has had an epiphany or undergone some personal growth, and she optimistically approaches Twitter with the unfortunately yet-to-be-substantiated hope that something about Twitter, too, will have changed.

And it’s changed alright—for the worse. It still has the capability to bring folks together (look at all the people Monday-morning-quarterbacking the flags thrown last night at Demi), but some are simply more brazen and nastier than ever, addicted to rapid-fire responses and provoking a reaction. While an “edit” function seems to be one of the big items topping Twitter users’ wish lists lately, is that because people are haunted by their typos or because anyone actually thinks a piece of vitriol could be made less nasty or more insightful with a thoughtful edit?

Demi Lovato via Instagram

In October 2016, Lovato announced a breather from the public eye altogether, tweeting, “So excited for 2017. Taking a break from music and the spotlight.. I am not meant for this business and the media.”

Happy new year, she was then mercilessly mocked in February 2017 when she tweeted the results of a DNA ancestry test and apparently used too many exclamation points in declaring herself “1 percent African!!!!”

She didn’t leave Twitter, but her conclusion was, “Just thought it was cool and totally random. Some of y’all are mean af. Twitter sucks.”

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