It's not likely that you haven't seen Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in the past few years, if you look at social media.

The star of Never Have I Ever has become a Gen-Z icon and an inspiration for young South Asians. The 20-year-old was chosen to play the main character in the film. Since then, her fame has only grown.

There is a lot of engagement with the young actor on his social media platforms. She has 4.1 million followers on the social media site, who watch her career, her activism, and her cosplay. She has connections with other creatives, such as the Tamil artist who once created a piece inspired by the NHIE character. The two met over bubble tea after the actor found the fan art.

The story that Ramakrishnan shares as she launches the #ExtraordinaryConnections campaign is a positive one. The campaign is asking people around the world to share their stories of connection through Meta apps.

The campaign is hoping to amplify the more socially-conscious, community-based aspect to social media by using the online persona of Ramakrishnan. In this interview, Ramakrishnan talks about her relationship to the internet and how she fostered a healthy relationship with it. She imagined a lot of thirst traps on Devi's social media accounts.

Meera Navlakha: The first season of Never Have I Ever came out at the beginning of the pandemic, and so much of the reaction unfolded on social media. What was that experience like? 

It was a large amount. We didn't get to go to the premiere or the red carpet, so it was interesting. It felt like a small thing. You can't imagine how many people like and comment on those things. The second season is when I realized that this is really large.

It was the power of social media that pushed Never Have I Ever to so many people. The reach of the social media network is amazing. It was a double-edged sword because it was initially disappointing. I think we did a good job getting the show out there and how many people posted about it. I crashed a lot of people's watch parties after they sent me a link to their social media accounts. That was really enjoyable.

Did your social media use change a lot after Never Have I Ever?

Definitely. It wasn't really me and my friends before. My social media feed was probably just pictures of me and my family. It's still pretty much the same. I think I can use social media in a more interactive way. There are more people talking.

You've become a known role model for so many young South Asians. Have you been able to connect to some of these fans over social media?

It's for sure. That can happen with good old comments and whatnot, but also with using the "question stickers" on social media sites. You can see what people are saying on the live stream. What are they taking pictures of you?

You can see how people get excited about the show by watching the fan art and the fan edits. When a trailer drops, people try to analyze it and come up with theories. In a way that makes sense to you, they also get to interact with your personal life on the photo sharing site. With social media, you can decide how much of your life you put out there. It's possible to invite people into the aspects that you want them to be in.

And have you been able to connect to other creatives and artists? 

Absolutely! I want to get into digital art and animation. I was inspired by the art of many of the visual artists I found through the social media platform. I got to speak to them after the show. The more I get into the industry, the more I branched out. I get to stay in touch with people I haven't seen in a while.

Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Instagram?

They have good, wholesome, happy stuff. Happy stuff is nice to have on your feed. When you have the first thing on your feed, it's always bad. There are always positive things said on social media. I like following my friends and acquaintances.

Have you ever found it hard to be your authentic self on social media? That's something so many of us struggle with. 

Yeah. Find your voice or find your balance. Everyone has their own vibe of what works for them, and that's what makes them unique. Some people like to be on social media all the time and want to give a lot of themselves on it. We talked about how much of your personal life you want to keep out there. They don't want to. Digital artists rarely post a picture of themselves on social media sites. It's mostly their artwork and that's valid. It's about figuring out your own balance.

"I feel like everyone has their own limit and their own vibe of what works for them."
- Maitreyi Ramakrishnan

I had to understand when I need to take a break and sometimes say 'I don't need a post about it' or 'I'm hopping off social media for a while'. Whether or not you announce it or not, some people can do that. My family and pictures of fun times are the majority of my IG account.

You've posted about having a seemingly "complicated" name and the importance of pronouncing people's names correctly. Can you tell me about having that conversation over social media and why you chose to do so?

I'm blessed to have a platform that I can use. I know a lot of people would like that platform and be able to speak up about things like saying someone's name right and the identity that comes with a name. It's something that I'm passionate about and I believe in. It's authentic to my social media persona.

There are other people out there that care about the same thing as you do. It needs to be. It's the same thing about social media. You get to put out things that you care about, and there's a good chance that other people will connect with it and feel like they're part of something. A lot of people saw me talk about my name and it made them feel good if they had a complicated name.

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What do you think Devi's Instagram account would look like?

Oh my god, I can't believe it! A lot of TikTok dances are bad. A lot of those reels and TikToks are used for dancing. A lot of trends and lip sync audios would be present. She would have posted thirst traps and power to her. I'd follow her. It would make you laugh.

How do you think young people overall can foster more healthy connections on social media?

Staying safe online is a large part of it. Let's not get carried away with the connections that can be made. Staying safe and being smart is what you have to do. Creating healthy connections on social media and having a good relationship with social media requires understanding what is real and what isn't. You have to always stay in touch with the fact that there is life beyond.

I would be so bent on every single post that I put out that I would worry about people liking it. If people think this is weird, I'm going to lose myself. At a Raptors game with my hot dog, I like to post. She is at her core. Hot dogs are my favorite food. I had a couple. I can be found at the Nintendo store or at a concert. I'm at my core. I'm not thinking that everyone else will like this. This is my hobby and I was very happy in this photo. People are hopefully happy. I keep in touch with myself and what I want to do.

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Have you ever gotten any really good advice from any of your mentors or other actors about social media?

A lot of actors stay away from the public eye. I felt vindicated when I felt like things were getting too much. Social media can get overwhelming when a season ends. It can be hard to keep up with all the notifications and attention. I used to think I could handle it. When I hear of people taking breaks and shutting their phones down, I realize I can do that as well. Social media is still enjoyable. I enjoy using social media. I just uploaded a fun edited video of myself andDarren, which is something I love doing. I do what makes me happy. I have learned that.

What is your advice on maintaining self love like while being an Extremely Online person?

Hmm? It's about checking in with yourself. Do what makes you happy. It's more difficult than done. There are lots of pressures in our lives that make us want to conform to what other people want. Is this cool? People on social media should be more honest. We enjoy watching other people's feeds and seeing the fun and perfect. There is so much that we don't know. All of us want validation. All of us compare ourselves. We have to be more self-assured.

Thank you so much for speaking with me!

That's right! Social media is a difficult thing to understand. It's a lot of work. We are all trying to understand it.