Keanu Reeves is Not on Social Media
by Anakin McFly
Every so often, a quote attributed to Keanu Reeves goes viral on the internet, with sources claiming that Keanu posted it on his Facebook page. There's one problem: Keanu does not have a Facebook page.
"I don't use social media," he said in his first Reddit AMA, answering questions over the phone as Reddit staff typed them out for him. When someone asked him why not, Keanu replied: "You know, I'm a fairly private person, and also I think you can share your private thoughts with your friends using social media, but I have not done that yet. I tend to do that when I'm with them. I just have not found the time or way yet."
He reiterates this fact in an October 2016 interview, explaining that he doesen't use social media because privacy is important to him, and "I don't really have anything to say about anything!"
In March 2016, yet another viral quote made its rounds. In it, 'Keanu Reeves' allegedly laments how "men dress their wives as prostitutes" and says a few other questionable things in barely coherent English ("aping under the primitive sounds" ... "repair every rustle of their car"). While his words were applauded in some conservative circles, others responded in disgust, calling Keanu a vacuous, pretentious, judgemental, misogynist snob and declaring that they've lost all respect for him. After all, it's a special kind of person who would believe that men plan their wives' outfits and then dress them accordingly, and where men should be judged for how much flesh they allow their women to reveal.
But Keanu never said those things. The quote has previously been attributed to other celebrities and one unnamed Muslim journalist (the link to which no longer works). A search turned up a video of Keanu at an art exhibition which was dubbed over in Russian with that quote, making it seem like a translation of Keanu's words. Unfortunately for them, we found the original video, where Keanu was talking awkwardly about art, not going on a self-righteous spiel about how he's one of the few people left in this world with a moral conscience.
I have no idea who first decided to attribute that quote to Keanu. LucaM says that seems to have first emerged in Russian social media, and then made its way around Moldavian and Romanian social media circles as well as several Muslim websites before surfacing in English social media - thanks to fake Keanu Facebook pages reposting it to their tens of thousands of followers.
Fans on this site have, collectively, probably seen or read every single interview Keanu has ever done. None of us have ever encountered this quote or anything like it.
Throughout his career, Keanu has always deliberately avoided commenting on political or social issues. Many of his friends and co-stars have meanwhile talked about his extreme willingness to listen, his open acceptance for all sorts of people, and his remarkable respect for others, even those he disagrees with. That is not the portrait of a man who would use the phrase "retarded despots".
Keanu is rarely in a relationship and does not have children; he started his own motorcycle company; he's good friends with at least three transgender women, used to occasionally wear a skirt because it was comfortable, and did drag for one photoshoot. This is really not a man who would criticise people who do not want to start families, who waste money and effort on vehicles, or publicly lament how one can no longer tell men and women apart.
I'm positive the quote is not from Keanu, and am grateful to Snopes for clearing that up.
There have been many, many Facebook pages claiming to be Keanu's personal account or run by his management. One of them - "Unoffical: Keanu Reeves Online" - collected as many as half a million followers before being suspended. That page was part of a network of fake Facebook celebrity pages that would post pictures of those celebrities alongside inspirational quotes from around the internet. (They usually use the same quotes, which one time led to people angrily accusing Keanu of plagiarising Liam Neeson without credit. Liam Neeson never made that quote either.)
At other times, they would rewrite things that other people had said about those celebrities into the first-person: for instance, if someone had said, "Keanu is a really cool guy who's always kind to everyone!", they'd post a picture of Keanu and the quote "I'm a really cool guy and always kind to everyone!" which had the effect of making Keanu out to be an extremely self-centred snob.
After getting their hundreds of thousands of followers, those fan pages then suddenly change tack and reveal their true purpose: they start spamming their followers with links to certain clickbait websites and products. Fans then click on those links and support those things, thinking that their favourite celebrities are behind them. It's likely that those websites are behind this, and there's a small part of me that's impressed at their marketing strategy even while being repulsed at their dishonesty and exploitation of a celebrity's name and fan loyalty.
Neither was Keanu at all involved with the Twitter account @OfficialKeanu. It was eventually suspended, but not before getting tens of thousands of followers - a few of whom ended up extremely distressed when engaging with that account resulted in 'Keanu' being mean to them.
Here are some other notable not-Keanu quotes that previously went viral, courtesy of those Facebook pages:
A) "Most people know me, but don't know my story. ..."
Snopes does a good debunking at that link. It's a first-person rewrite of an earlier viral story about Keanu, and both versions include many inaccuracies about Keanu's life. I cover that over here.
B) "You see these people behind me? They are rushing to work and not paying attention to anything. Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to take the time out to enjoy the beauty in life. It’s like we’re zombies. Look up and take your head phones out. Say Hi to someone you see and maybe give a hug to someone who looks like they’re hurting. Help out someone. You have to live every day like it’s your last. What people don’t know about me is that I had depression a couple of years back. I never told anyone about it. I had to fight my way out of depression. The person who was holding me back from my happiness was ME. Every day is precious so let’s treat it like that. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, so live today! I hope you share this post to spread love this holiday."
This one was paired by a photo of Keanu that was not a selfie as suggested, but a fan photo from March 2015. It seems extremely unlikely that she would have then got Keanu's email or phone number so she could send it to him to post on his Facebook page a few months later. While the overall sentiment might be inspirational, the quote also makes Keanu out to be pretty insensitive. He's a multi-millionaire with lots of time on his hands. He can literally afford to stop and smell the roses. Most people aren't that fortunate, busy not out of choice but necessity, and it would be pretty obnoxious for a rich celebrity to stroll serenely around the road patronisingly chastising them for being busy all the time.
Meanwhile, Keanu has never publicly said anything about having depression. I find this quote particularly damaging in how it perpetuates the myth that depression is something that people can just fight their way out of. Being clinically depressed is not a failure of willpower or intentional wallowing in despair; it is a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes it physiologically difficult if not impossible to be happy, no matter how hard you try. Sometimes, dealing with the depressive trigger is enough to help. At other times, medication is also required.
C) "If the Arabs are strong enough, they would destroy the whole world,therefore, we should annihilate them."
I get asked about this one every now and then. It was one of a few fake quotes attributed to Hollywood celebrities that were cooked up by an Iranian news agency to stir up anti-Western sentiment. All sources link back to it as the root. They included a quote from Sir Anthony Hopkins claiming to be ashamed of being American, which people have pointed out is really weird because he's Welsh.
D) A quote about how his friend's mom always ate healthily, did lots of exercise, and now has a whole cornucopia of diseases, while that friend's father - who ate junk food laden with butter and fat and bacon and "never and I mean never exercised" - is, at 81, as healthy as "a young person". The quote then goes on to suggest that we should all live lives to the fullest and enjoy ourselves, ignoring all the stuff doctors tell you not to do, because pfft, what do they know, they just don't want you to have fun.
Firstly, Keanu never said that. It has also been attributed to various celebrities in the past.
Secondly - yes, live life to the fullest. Always. But that includes taking care of yourself by eating well, exercising, doing things in moderation. Sure, some people ignore all that and still turn out all right, but they're usually the exceptions. Likewise, not everyone who follows all the 'rules' ends up healthy, but that's because health is a complex thing. But that friend's mom might have been even worse off if not for her healthy lifestyle.
Other quotes attributed to Keanu were in fact actual quotes from other celebrities, like Bob Marley. Others were excerpts from classic literature and poetry. One post blatantly plagiarised something from this website.
I understand the desire to believe that Keanu has in fact been using Facebook to share his innermost thoughts with the world. But all evidence points to him not doing so just yet. Until that day comes, please use your discernment. Always consider the source and if it seems like something he would say. On social media, check to see if the account has been verified as belonging to that celebrity - this usually means a white-on-blue tick next to their name. (Though even that is not 100% proof, as this case reveals.)
Most of the time, this stuff is harmless, even inspirational. But now and then there are quotes that might anger people to think that someone famous would say something so irresponsible or insulting on a public platform. Or where people use the apparent support of a celebrity to spread and feel validated in views that that celebrity might be opposed to. I'm particularly concerned about younger fans who might be affected by what an actor they look up to seems to believe (such as a young Arabian fan who was really upset by that quote about Keanu wanting to destroy all Arabs), or who view him as a role model and may end up being taught the wrong thing: like how exercising might be bad for you, or that it's totally normal to brag about what a modest person you are.
When Keanu does say something wrong, by all means hold him accountable. But do check that it was something that he actually did say. It's a sad state of journalism when, out of the 5 quotes in an article sharing "5 Incredible Pieces of Wisdom" from Keanu, not a single one actually came from Keanu.