Emma Watson on “incredibly dangerous” social media and tech addiction

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Kayleigh Dray
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Emma Watson made her film debut in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when she was just 11 years old – and, since then, the actor, feminist, and women’s rights activist has been in the public eye on a near-constant basis.

“The story of my life has been of public interest,” she tells Jessica Chastain in Interview magazine, “which is why I’ve been so passionate about having a private identity.”

Now 27, Watson has a bevy of films under her belt, and is currently promoting her dystopian sci-fi thriller, The Circle, which is all about the dangers of transparency, social media and our fascination with the internet.

And the actor readily admits that working on the thriller caused her to reflect on her own relationship with social media.

“I set even more boundaries than I had before between my public and my private lives,” says Watson. “It made me think a lot about what I would do if I had children. A lot of children of this generation have their entire lives made public before they have a say about what they would want. I think it should always be a choice.”

The actor continued: “I love social media, and I love what it can do and how it brings people together, but used in the wrong way, it's incredibly dangerous. And, increasingly, our attention is our most important resource.

“Before the press tour, I deleted my email app from my phone and really tried to create serious boundaries from it, because it is addictive. We need to make sure that we are using technology, and technology is not using us.”

Asked to explain her new film in her own words, Watson says: “I would describe the movie as The Social Network meets All About Eve meets Panic Room

The Social Network because it deals with how technology intersects with basic human needs: to feel loved, to feel seen, to feel a connection, to feel that you belong. 

All About Eve because it deals with the complexity of the female relationship in a patriarchal world; usually there's only one woman or two women in a boardroom.

“And Panic Room because it's intense.”

Watson stars in The Circle – which has been adapted from Dave Eggers’ book of the same name – alongside Tom Hanks and Karen Gillan.

The film’s full synopsis reads: “When Mae Holland [Watson] is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

“As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cosy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO [Hanks].”

Watch the trailer for The Circle below:

As you may have guessed from the clip’s seriously ominous vibes, not all is as it seems – and Mae’s dream job quickly becomes the stuff of nightmares.

“Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public,” the synopsis teases.

“What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.”

The film is released 28 April.

Images: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.