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Catastrophe star Sharon Horgan on the "incredibly upsetting" power of social media

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Anna Brech
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She may be one of the most powerful women on TV, but Sharon Horgan is steering clear of the limelight - for a very good reason…

She’s the co-writer and star of Catastrophe whose witty, painfully accurate take on life as a London parent has kept us gripped to the Channel 4 sitcom. 

But as the comedy returns to our screens for a fourth season this month, Sharon Horgan, says she avoids the lure of fame and acclaim - in order not to “buy into” the pressures young women face on social media. 

Horgan says she believes her own childhood growing up on a farm in Ireland was so much easier than that now experienced by her two teen daughters; and it’s all down to the effect of the digital world.

“With my oldest girl I can’t bear it,” Horgan tells The Sunday Times Magazine. “I mean, it’s just incredibly upsetting watching social media.”

The award-winning actor says the problems come from a pressure to be perfect, and also “the fear-of-missing-out thing”.

“That doesn’t seem like a big thing, but it’s massive,” she says. “It’s a massive thing if you’re watching something going on and feeling really hurt about why you’re not there, you know. 

“That never used to be a thing. It’s really stressful. I mean, it’s this sort of keep-you-awake-at-night stress.” 

Sharon Horgan and her Catastrophe co-star Rob Delaney

Horgan says she tries to counteract the adverse effect of social media by showing her daughters that the showbiz world she operates in (and which is often held up as a standard on Instagram and other platforms) isn’t real.

“I guess it’s trying to be a good role model,” she says.

“It’s leading by example, I guess, to a certain extent. I mean, I’m in this world but I’m not in this world, you know. I mean, I don’t buy into it.

“[…] I think my eldest would like me to be a bit more glam, yes, but I mean, I guess it’s just about keeping it at arm’s length and letting them know how unimportant all that is. 

“The odd time, I’ll wind her up with something that I’ve been invited to that I’m not going to, and she can’t handle it. She’s like, ‘You could be so cool, but you’re not.’ I like telling her that, because I like letting her know that I’m not driven by that.”

A study last year found that 60% of teens feel pressure to look “perfect” on social media, and 58% blame this on celebrities and glamorous influencers. 

In the same interview, Horgan also paid tribute to her Catastrophe co-star Rob Delaney, following the death of his young son

“He’s such a sensitive, good person, but his strength is the thing that blows me away most. I’m in awe of him,” she said.

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.