The Grammy-winning pop singer Alessia Cara is taking a break from social media after negative comments. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Alessia Cara plans social media break, calls out nastiness of online fan culture

TORONTO — Alessia Cara says she’s stepping away from her social media feeds after a recent onslaught of negative comments.

The Grammy-winning pop singer took to Instagram late Monday to share a number of screen shots from her Twitter account that showed users criticizing her appearance and firing obscenities at her.

The 22-year-old singer says the comments — captured in a post she’s since deleted — reflect “a way larger issue” with online bullying.

“When you say those things to somebody, even if you’re trolling or just trying to make a joke, it makes that person’s day that much harder — at least speaking for myself,” Cara said.

“I need some time away from it directly, whether it’s a few days or a few weeks. Sometimes I think you need to step away from those things.”

Cara later outlined her thoughts in a live Instagram video where she said she believes the separation created by computer and phone screens downplays the “gravity of words” in online conversations

The singer, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., has often connected directly with fans through various online platforms. She frequently shares clips of her global travels on Instagram and reserves time to answer fan questions on Twitter.

In her latest post, Cara lamented the toxicity of ”stan culture,” a term used to describe how super-fans divide themselves into factions online.

While ardent supporters of performers including Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Beyonce boast about their favourite artist’s latest achievements, some also attack other artists. The conversations frequently spiral into name calling and insults about a performer’s appearance or abilities.

“This whole world of stan culture, while it’s amazing and great and connective a lot of the time, it can be very hurtful,” said Cara, who releases her album “The Pains of Growing” on Friday.

“It gives people a platform to not only put people against each other but feel like they can say whatever they want to anybody all of the time.”

Other young pop stars have also spoken about the impact of online culture on their personal lives.

Shawn Mendes addressed the pressures of fame in a Rolling Stone cover story released Monday, admitting he regularly checks Twitter and YouTube to read what people say about him.

The 20-year-old Pickering, Ont. singer said he’s bothered by online speculation about his sexuality, which has included comments about whether his mannerisms are too feminine and whether or not he’s seen with girlfriends.

Cara urged her fans to be more considerate in their online messages.

“It’s a weird world, and a weird time — it’s already hard to navigate on its own,” she said.

“We don’t need to be making each other’s lives harder.”

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