Actress Shailene Woodley has always had a love-hate relationship with Instagram.
But her discomfort with the social media app reached a fever pitch when attention intensified during her relationship with her ex-fiancé, NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“Honestly, I never realized that millions of people around the world were watching these things and paying attention to them. Then I dated someone in America who was very, very famous,” Woodley told Net-a-Porter, referring to the Green Bay Packers star, in an interview published Sunday. His Instagram account has a following of nearly 5 million users.
The “Big Little Lies” actress called her relationship with Rodgers her first “famous relationship,” which she said brought more attention and scrutiny to her personal life. Instagram went from being “fun,” Woodley said, to feeling “rapist.”
“I’m a very private person, so I found that whenever I posted something, I instantly felt like I was sharing too much of who I am with people I didn’t necessarily trust,” Woodley said.
After dating throughout 2020, Woodley and Rodgers announced they were engaged in February 2021. When Woodley confirmed the engagement on “The Tonight Show,” she told host Jimmy Fallon: “It’s not new news to us. So it’s kind of funny that everyone at the moment is freaking out about it, and we’re like, ‘Yeah, we’ve been engaged for a while.’”
A year later, the couple broke off their engagement.
Woodley called the period after her breakup with Rodgers “the darkest, most difficult time of my life.”
“It was winter in New York and my personal life was shit, so I felt like a big bubble of pain for eight months,” she told Net-a-Porter.
Woodley said she had already been considering retiring from Instagram because she became “allergic to people talking about things they know nothing about.” She complained that most celebrities don’t really “read books and learn” about the topics they post.
Woodley’s disdain for social media dates back to 2014, when he told Marie Claire that he had deleted his Instagram account ahead of the release that year of his films “Divergent” and “The Fault in Our Stars.”
“Everything I was posting was for a story, like, ‘Look how interesting I am.’ I found it disgusting,” she said, adding that “we are all so narcissistic, and that is what social media caters to.”
Then, in a 2016 interview with The Times, Woodley echoed his sentiments, commenting that social media would “bring up a narcissistic nature within me that way.” [needing] validation.”
He went on to question the role of social media in Hollywood and whether directors and studios were looking for actors with popularity on apps rather than considering their talent or artistry within their craft.
Woodley eventually restarted his account, where he regularly posted about social and political causes that mattered to him, including opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline. Woodley was arrested in North Dakota while protesting at a pipeline construction site in 2016.
Last August, Woodley took to social media and warned his followers that “you can’t reveal everything on the internet.”
“Instagram should be a place where we come to laugh at ourselves + at society. let’s not beat ourselves up about 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 cutting back on her use of social media, she can focus on “the smaller things,” which now “feel like the most extraordinary little slices of magic on the planet.”
His Instagram page now includes just a handful of posts, including an ad for eco-friendly sunglasses and an Instagram Live on Indigenous Peoples Day. Her most recent stories mainly feature time she spends with friends: card games on game night, dinner at a restaurant, and smiling FaceTime calls.