The Twilight-star turned art house cinema superstar has already compared text messaging to something like a shadow of yourself, telling V magazine, “When you speak to someone on the phone, that is a decipherable, understandable exchange, but with text and social media, it’s essentially a dialogue with yourself and your interpretation of a shadow. It’s not invalid; it’s a new language.”
In her latest sit-down with IndieWire, conducted as a joint interview with Shopper's director Olivier Assayas, Stewart goes even deeper and darker on the subject. Though the actress says she's never experienced the death of anyone close to her, she can't quite imagine how she'd deal with the fact that though someone is gone so much of them is left forever through their social media presence, text message backlogs and other digital artifacts.
“People feel so entitled to communication in the digital age,” Stewart told the website. “I think mourning has probably changed because we’re so in each other’s faces no matter where we are geographically. Now imagine someone passes away and you’re like, ‘What do you mean I can’t talk to them? I can always talk to them.’”
"I can’t imagine going back and knowing that my entire text thread with this person is still there and they’re not," she continues. "People’s Facebooks become memorial-type things. I think having this data in our hands all the time, depending on how you approach it, can be really scary because it’s a rabbit hole. It gives you an opportunity to know more than you could remember without it. Is it better to let things go and be affected by them, or always have it there to dwell on?”
Stewart's recent musings on the nature of digital communications are not completely unexpected, especially when considering the context of this film. Though the title of the film is derived from the fact that Stewart's character works in Paris as a fashion shopper for a rich French woman, the film is actually about the character's attempts to communicate with her deceased twin brother from behind the grave. Yes, it's a ghost story, but one with a modern twist. Her character starts to receive mysterious texts from unknown numbers that could be nothing more than pranks or the result of a wrong number or could end up being something spookier.
The character also maintains a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend back in the States, one that is almost completely conducted through digital communications. In fact, Stewart compared Skype to basically a seance.
So being asked to deliver deep thoughts about texts is to be expected for a film that asks its audience similar questions.
Stewart, of course, notoriously does not maintain a public social media presence online (she told V that she thinks people can get addicted to the quick hits of validation inherent in our like-button culture and she's still a bit skeeved-out by President Donald Trump's onetime Twitter obsession with her), but she does text. She's just not sure how she feels about it, even when it doesn't involve death.
“You start texting with someone and you’re just like, ‘Okay, that was the perfect thing to say,’ and then you look at it after and you read all of your texts together as a whole, as a visual thing, and it’s just…”
She didn't finish the thought, and, yet, by the time the press tour for Personal Shopper is over we're pretty sure we'll end up knowing more than we every thought about Stewart's theories about texting.
Watch Kristen Stewart Take W's Screen Test: