Pop star Justin Bieber’s rabid fans may not differ qualitatively from Elvis’ or the Beatles’, but they have something their forebears did not: Twitter. More than 49.5 million users follow @justinbieber, an alarming number of whom use their handles as yet another opportunity to swoon: @marrymejustin, @followmejustin, @justinbmyboo, @justinbmysavior. No matter that the Canadian heartthrob’s PR woes now include being arrested for DUI and drag racing, peeing in a bucket and then spraying a photo of Bill Clinton with cleaning fluid, abandoning a monkey in an airport, possibly egging his neighbor’s house, visiting a Brazilian brothel, and stashing drugs in his bedroom.* Girls tweet at him ceaselessly, relentlessly, with the single-minded dedication of a robot compacting a box. Sometimes, when the planets align, he tweets back.
That’s when, in the parlance of the youth, ish gets cray. Getting “noticed” is one of the great achievements of Bieber zealotry. It is like being singled out by Zeus to bear the next hero of the Myrmidons. You become a celebrity in your own right—“can you get him to follow me?” others might ask plaintively—and, sometimes, a target of jealous rage. Last March, a 15-year-old girl received death threats after Justin retweeted her tweet: “Not really a fan of Justin Bieber but his acoustic album is really good!” Sample response: “Really @justinbieber you RT that and u don’t even know I exist and I’m a belieber I can’t I want to die kill me I can’t AAAAH.”
But it’s not all mean girl negativity. One throwaway :) or thanks from the Biebs has the power to generate hundreds of joyous, amazed, we-are-happy-for-you-but-worried-about-your-health tweets in just a few hours. There are the congratulations from the rest of the Twitterverse (“You deserve it!” “I’m so proud of u” “U ARE BLESSED”), the renewed pleas from bystanders for their own RT or follow, and, in extreme cases, the involvement of Mom. Don’t belieb me? Below, we highlighted a few tropes of Justin Bieber Twitter delirium, together with representative examples.
Playing it cool
Professions of love
Inspiration for a new generation
(Ed. note: If she does, chances are we will know all about it.)
*Correction, Feb. 13, 2014: This post originally stated that Justin Bieber peed on a photo of Bill Clinton. Bieber peed in a restaurant mop bucket and then sprayed the image of the former president with cleaning fluid.