K.Flay on Social Media & Drawing a Healthy Boundary Online

“I treat Instagram like CVS,” Kristine Flaherty, better known by her stage name K.Flay, tells Billboard’s Behind the Setlist podcast. “Like, I buy my makeup remover cloths and I pick up my migraine prescription, and I’m out.”

Most artists see social media as a lifeline that connects them directly to the world. The reasons the “Blood in the Cut” singer treats social media like a trip to a drug store says a lot about the 38-year-old singer/songwriter.

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Flaherty acknowledges the practical value of social channels for communicating with her fans and providing updates about her music career. “It’s part of my work,” she says, which also includes her latest album, Mono, released in September 2023, and her most recent single, “Carsick,” released in January.  “It’s part of how I communicate with my fans, and how I publicize what I’m up to.”

But Flaherty wants to set up a “healthy” boundary and is wary of getting trapped in a never-ending quest to gain attention. It’s all too common for an artist to think they’ll be happy getting to a certain number of followers, she says. Reaching 100 followers leads them to think they need 1,000 followers, then 10,000 and then 100,000.

“If you buy into this kind of if then thinking, there will never be enough,” she says. “And you’re kind of in the trap. You’ll never extricate yourself. So you just have to self-extricate from that type of thinking, in my opinion. So I try to just not engage with with that.”

Flaherty’s comments come at a time social media is under attack from a spectrum of critics. Professor Jonathan Haidt has recently been on a media tour supporting his book, The Anxious Generation, that details how smartphones and social media have re-wired adolescents’ brains and led to spikes in psychiatric problems. In the political sphere, President Biden signed a law a TikTok ban — inserted by the U.S. Congress into a $95 foreign aid package — that will force the company out of the hands of its Chinese owner, Bytedance. Old-school flip phones and so-called “dumb phones,” cell phones purposefully stripped of most capabilities, are becoming popular with people seeking refuge from distractions.

Still, social media can be necessary to bring Flaherty’s music and performances to some fans. Although she covered much of the U.S. supporting Mono, and traveled to Australia for a string of performances in February, Flaherty naturally doesn’t travel to every corner of the globe. Social media helps her connect with people in cities where she hasn’t performed. “That’s the only way they’re ever going to get to interact with my live shows,” she says, “seeing a video online. And so that stuff matters to me. But I try not to try not to put too much time and energy into the the vicissitudes of the internet.” Plus, Flaherty adds, “I don’t really read comments.”

Listen to Behind the Setlist’s entire interview with K.Flay in the embedded player below or at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeart or Amazon Music.

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