Kendall Jenner spoke to Dr. Jorge Partida, Chief of Psychology at LA County’s Department of Mental Health, about social media and anxiety as part of Vogue’s “Unpacking Anxiety” series. Their YouTube talk is below. Kendall has been open about her anxiety for years, and Kim has explained that Kendall may appear standoffish because of her anxiety. It also seems to be somewhat affecting her ability to do her job. I don’t mean that in a snotty way at all, part of Kendall’s job as a reality star and model is to post to Instagram. She told Dr. Padilla that she’s addicted to social media and that it can provoke anxiety in her to see how negative and judgmental people can be. I came away from this interview finding Kendall somewhat sympathetic. She’s not my favorite person, but I understood her a bit more. Here’s some of what she said. Also I know “overwhelmingness” isn’t a word. I didn’t put [sic] in the title because I feel like it’s not that big of a grammatical error.
On social media being addictive
There’s just literally too much. I find that the more I’m looking at the screen, the more detached I feel with my own body or to what’s happening right in front of me. My relationship with social media is a bit addictive right now, which I don’t like and I’m not proud to say that, but I also feel like that’s something that probably most of us can relate to.
On people making assumptions about her family
There’s an assumption of the kind of people we are that I could say is pretty inaccurate. We have a reality TV show a lot of people know a lot of our lives. There’s such a lack of knowing our character and who we are.
She was asked about a peak moment of anxiety related to social media
Something that upsets me the most is someone claiming a false narrative for me. The Internet bases things off such small moments with no context. They don’t know the before or the after. They’ll take that and they’ll judge you based off of this one little thing.
I have moments of feeling like I’m breaking or feeling like I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes it does feel like I can never do anything right.
On if social media has affected her identity
I’ve become numb to [criticism] in a way. That took time though and that took a lot of like talking to myself and hyping myself up. And because of social media, everything is highlighted. Most of my social media anxiety is actually more the overwhelmingness of it all.
Dr. Partida said that social media sends so much information that our brain shuts down and we get into a flight or fight response that can make us feel separate from what’s happening. He also said that people “trade their real life for the imagined life” instead of making in-person connections with others. At the end of the video, Kendall called it validating to talk to a professional about these things and to realize that other people are going through it too.
I rarely post personal photos to Instagram and I only use Facebook for my job, but Kendall needs to use Instagram to promote herself. You may think that’s not the case, but it’s the reality now and she does sponsored posts. These apps are designed and machine tailored to get us addicted, and they do affect our self image. One of my friends deletes and reinstalls Instagram so that she doesn’t use it as much. She says the ads are so good that they influence her to want the products. I’ve installed an app called AppBlock on my Android to set blackout times so I don’t waste time on specific apps. (On iPhone I think Screentime can be used for that.) While there are so many positive aspects of social media, especially how it has kept us connected this past year, I don’t think we know enough about how it affects us or how it’s affecting young people who grew up with it. It also has changed how we relate to each other.
Here’s that interview: