Today, as Kim Kardashian‘s family, friends and fans take to social media to wish her a happy birthday, we’re guessing the E! star will look at her phone and see the messages pouring in.
But we wonder if she’ll answer them.
The now 36-year-old wife, mother, businesswoman and reality-TV fixture has been entirely absent from Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, et al. since undergoing one of the most terrifying experiences of her life in the early morning hours of Oct. 3, being tied up, gagged and robbed at gunpoint inside her residence at a luxury hotel in Paris.
And while those close to Kim have shot down reports that she blames herself and her singularly public lifestyle for what happened, we do hear that she’s carefully reevaluating things as she figures out her next step.
“I mean, she’s not doing that well,” Khloe Kardashian said 10 days ago on Ellen about her sister. “I mean, it’s incredibly traumatic what happened to her, but our family is super close and great and we’ll get through it together, and we do appreciate all of your guys’ love and support and it will take time.”
“I think it’s just a wake-up call to make a lot of life adjustments,” Khloe, who returned to social media a few days after the robbery but canceled her book signings amid security concerns, added. “This is a really serious matter for Kim I think that’s really personal as to when that emotional terror you could move on from that. I think for us it’s all a wake up call for all of us, but definitely just to make sure our sister’s OK.”
If any family is going to be able to help one of their own make it through a particularly hard time, it’s the Kardashian family.
But with Kim planning a “very quiet” birthday this year, not to mention keep the rest of 2016 “pretty laid back,” we’re reminded of the weirdness occurring right now on social media.
Because it’s just not the same without Kim Kardashian.
No tweets, no selfies, no videos, nary a retweet and not even any promotions have sprung forth from her app or her Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat accounts, all of which are avidly followed by millions who both love Kim and who love to mix it up with the media-savvy star.
While the world has kept turning and Twitter’s trending feeds have remained clogged with whatever the topic of the moment is, it’s not a common occurrence for the 9th-most-followed person in the world on Twitter, the fifth-most-followed person on Instagram and the person who had the Snapchat moment of 2016 to just disappear from all three.
It’s certainly understandable as to why she hasn’t been gallivanting about, but combine that with her continued absence from social and it becomes apparent just how stricken Kim remains.
Kim’s social media break felt all the more unfortunate earlier this week upon the hardcover reissue of her 2015 photo book Selfish, now updated with more pics from 2015 and 2016 and gleefully sporting a gold sticker that announces “More Me!” on the cover.
The fact that not even an assistant sent out a promo tweet about the book from Kim’s account speaks volumes.
“Obviously nobody knows how they would react to that kind of situation and I have no idea what I would do,” Chrissy Teigen told Entertainment Tonight in response to what happened to Kim, noting that they had exchanged texts since the robbery. “I have no idea what my life would be like after. I can’t even fathom it. So I’m just proud that she’s back at home and with her babies.”
If anyone understands, Chrissy gets that social media might not always feel like the safest place, the model and cookbook author having recently switched her Twitter account to private after she’d finally had it with online haters.
But Kim, who’s gained 30.5 million Instagram followers since hitting the 50 million mark almost exactly a year ago, has always had a unique ability to filter out what doesn’t work and embrace what does, whether she’s going on a photo-posting spree, partaking in a Twitter Q&A, getting political or consulting her adoring dolls about her outfit choice.
While she’s hardly the only member of her family with a devoted following, Khloe being known for her Instagram wisdom and Kylie Jenner having been named Choice Snapchatter at the 2016 Teen Choice Awards, Kim is the one who helped pave the way for what social media is and what it does for all the people who’ve since found their fortune on Instagram, or Snapchat or even YouTube.
No one has inspired more dreams about being able to cash in on being yourself than Kim Kardashian has. But her usual ubiquity isn’t the only thing we’ve been without these past few weeks.
In this current political climate, especially, social media is hurting for kind voices—and Kim’s voice, even when she’s getting downright real about something, is always kind.
She may be a polarizing figure, just like most celebrities at times, but she also brings people together, from her sprawling family members to millions of fans. And though the glitz and glamour may make it hard to relate to her, she’s fiercely self-aware.
“I will not bite the hand that feeds me,” she told Vogue Australia last year, explaining why she refrains from getting into it with those on Twitter, et al. who don’t have the nicest things to say.
But no matter how public she’s always been, and how strong it’s made her in the process, she’s fiercely protective of her family.
“Everyone has critics. I think it’s really hard to live in a world where there’s so many people judging you,” Kim acknowledged. “I’m going to teach my daughter to be really strong.”
And as she told The Edit in February, “The biggest misconception about our family is that we don’t allow privacy and that we don’t have any. That’s just completely wrong. My mornings are so important to me so I can get [North] up. I work during the day, and hopefully I’m there to put her down at night, which is most of the time. I like to have a really good balance between filming and sharing information on our apps…and balancing it all.”
Now, of course, Kim will have a whole new perspective when she does ultimately return to social media. Whether there are noticeable differences with how she interacts with her followers or if she’s taking all this time off so that she’s prepared to press on as though she’s never been away, we shall soon find out.
On Tuesday, Kim’s assistant, Stephanie Sheppard, posted a note to her website, acknowledging that she was taking “some much-needed time off” but there would be new content coming soon courtesy of Kim’s “closest friends, fam” and Stephanie herself.
Though a message posted today by the birthday girl wouldn’t surprise us, Steph’s letter sounds as though Kim’s self-imposed hiatus will continue for a bit. But whenever she does decide to make her long-awaited return to social media, it can’t be soon enough for those who prefer consuming their Instagram and Snapchat feeds with a daily dose of Kim.
Don’t miss a new episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians this Sunday at 9 p.m., only on E!