Justin Bieber has been receiving more media attention than ever in the past few weeks for his increasingly illegal and dangerous behavior, but is all of this rebellion the product of his sudden leap into fame and the bullying he endured as a child star? Bieber began his career on Youtube in 2008, under the username “kidrauhl.” Bieber still maintains the channel, which keeps up to date with his current releases, but also features his original clips, showing a little kid in a baseball cap with undeniable singing chops.
The then 13-year-old singer was bombarded with comments on his YouTube channel, where his original fanbase was born, but where he received plenty of negative comments in turn. In true internet fashion, the trolls came out of the woodwork to give their ten cents on the kid’s videos, but the negativity took precedence rather quickly. Most of the comments teased Bieber about his height and the fact that his voice had not dropped yet. Many commentators called him “gay,” showing all of the cultural awareness and respect that most people have come to expect from “keyboard warriors” these days. How did these comments affect the young Bieber, who was, after all, just a kid who wanted to share his singing online?
In a classroom, children are reprimanded for calling each other derogatory and culturally insensitive words, as well as for teasing boys and girls who are going through the process of puberty. As many kids and families have discovered in the past few years, cyber-bullying offers the same emotional torture without the protection of a teacher or parent to moderate it.
Bieber spoke out against cyber-bullying in 2012, making a PSA to inspire awareness and bring an end to the crime, which has been terrifying parents and communities with its tragic results in recent years. In an interview in 2013, Bieber stated, “People forget I’m a human being,” explaining that all of the ups and downs of teenage-hood are not made easier by the media and the “haters” who are ready to attack him at every turn. The negative outcry still has not abated, although that certainly cannot be helped by the young star’s recent behavior. Is his behavior directly linked to his rocky climb to stardom?
“Stopbullying” is a website dedicated to educating about and putting an end to cyber harassment and bullying. Part of understanding the phenomenon is examining how minors are affected by bullying later in life. According to the site, children who are victimized by cyber bullies are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, to skip school, have low self-esteem and have more health problems later in life. With Bieber’s latest accusations of drug and alcohol abuse, it is hard to say whether or not the kid is behaving outrageously or just as everyone should have expected.
While Bieber enjoys a vast fan base to this day, his YouTube channel is still cluttered by the same insults he was enduring at 13-years old (with the added accusations of pedophilia now that he is over 18). Commenters are perversely just as united by proclaiming that they are not “Beliebers” as the fans who are sharing their love for the star. Bieber has become a celebrity everyone loves to hate, topping dozens of the “Internet’s most hated” lists.
As Bieber makes headlines this week and in the years to come, the star has asked the public to be more aware of the bullying behavior that has been haunting him since his childhood. The star claims that the hatred coming at him is “no different than bullying that happens in school.” The unending campaign against Bieber has got to be taking a toll on his emotional life in some form and has likely played a part in where the young star finds himself today.
by Lauren Martin