Janice Sequeira is no stranger to fame. She’s the creator of some hugely successful talk shows like Social Media Star, Starry Meals with Janice, and Cheers to That, and has rubbed shoulders with the biggest celebrities in B-town. And although she loves being under the arclights, it comes with its pros and cons.
Janice has had her share of controversies (for nothing, but speaking her mind) on social media, and yet, she continues to stand her own ground. She has been the target of several unscathing remarks that have had a deep impact on her mental health. But Janice has worked on building a positive relationship with social media, and we absolutely love her for that!
In an exclusive conversation with Health Shots, Janice tells us all about how she handles the pressures of being in the public eye, tackling troll attacks, and her mantra to keep her mental health in check, amid all the hate and negativity.
The perils of social media
Don’t we all have a love-hate relationship with social media? On one hand, it serves us some inspiration, and on the other, it makes us feel terrible about our own lives.
Janice rightly puts it: “The problem with social media is that we’re all looking at ourselves from a comparative lens. Earlier, how you were as a person, and what your life looked like was all very personal. But now that has really changed with the rise of social media.”
She also feels there is insurmountable pressure for content creators to always put out the right thing, especially those who are just venturing into this space.
“First, it became all about curating your feed a certain way, and then putting out authentic content. Then it was about how authentic is too authentic, and treading that thin line between being authentic and fake. There’s also the whole question of how paid partnerships fit into this, and what kind of content do you really want to create. Now, with social media exploding and so many creators jumping on to the scene, there is a lot of confusion,” explains Janice.
Contrary to general perception, Janice feels that going ‘viral’ isn’t an overnight phenomenon, it sometimes takes years. “For some people, it’s not like you become a content creator, and you immediately know what your voice is, or what you want to create. It takes some time. There are just so many apps today, and each has a different demand and different expectations. This pressure really messes with your head,” adds Janice.
Her brush with trolls
It was in 2018 that Janice had tweeted in support of actor Tanushree Dutta, who was sexually harassed by a senior actor, and was one of the first to be vocal in the Me Too movement. Janice was an eyewitness when the incident had occurred a decade ago, when she worked as a cub reporter with a media house.
It was almost natural for Janice to voice her support for Tanushree. But when she spoke up, she was targeted by an army of trolls who sent her rape threats, and also threatened to harm her friends and family. This left a deep impact on her mental health.
“For me, it was the first time that I had experienced trolling, and that’s when I realised even if you are speaking the truth, and even if the country’s biggest celebrities are supporting you, it doesn’t help. I remember I had to call the Twitter India office, and ask them to verify my account, so that I could block all these people. This is because they don’t stop at you, they get personal and attack your close ones,” informs Janice.
Cut to now, when she was trolled again post Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, Janice was better equipped to deal with the situation.
“I am not saying it didn’t impact me, since this time it was even more vicious than last time. But I knew these are all empty threats, and whatever anxiety and panic it is leading to, it’s all in the anonymity of the dark web of the Internet. There’s no one really who will do anything,” she adds.
Coping with the pandemic
The hate and negativity on social media is only growing, and there seems to be no end in sight. Janice believes these are all repercussions of people trapped at home due to covid, which is why it won’t end until people get back to work. If there’s one observation she has made, it is about how women content creators are targeted way more than men, but it’s best not to give these trolls any attention.
Dealing with the pandemic has been hard for most people, and for Janice too, it has brought to the fore several insecurities, but she’s doing her best to tackle them head on.
“As a content creator, it is very common to have anxiety and panic issues, because sometimes you are sure where your paychecks are coming from, or when and where your next gig will be. So, I was already in therapy, and I have continued that during this time. It has helped me a lot, because sometimes you need professional help to weigh in both realistic and unrealistic expectations you set for yourself,” she advises.
Besides, Janice has been working out, and spending time with her cat babies to keep herself stress-free.
Word of advice for young content creators
It’s very easy for young creators to get affected by the hate, and Janice has seen it with some of her closest friends. She has a word of advice: social media isn’t real; it is all about spending time with real people who care for you.
“It could be a chat with a friend or family, or even spending time with your pets. If you are going to hold on to trolls and negativity, then this experience on social media is always going to be negative for you,” shares Janice.
She urges young content creators to change their relationship with social media, and to remember that it is only a part of their life, not their entire life. Instead of spending all their time on apps, they can always use that time to read, chat with friends, or work out—at the end of the day, it’s all about choices.
“I, myself, am working on changing my relationship with social media. For instance, sometimes I find Instagram too much to deal with and I feel watching too many beautiful feeds makes it too overwhelming. I really respect their work, but I can’t be creating content all the time. So, that’s why I looked for other platforms, say like YouTube, where I can create content slowly and have a loyal fan base. That has really helped me,” concludes Janice.