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Editorial | Young star on the brink

Justin Bieber’s Twitter train wreck

Justin Bieber confronts a photographer in London this month.


Justin Bieber confronts a photographer in London this month.

Justin Bieber is both a creation of social media and a star practitioner of it: a pop star who was discovered through a string of YouTube videos, and who now has 35 million Twitter followers. Up to now, the attention has served him well. But what happens to a young star inside the social media bubble when things start to unravel?

Bieber, 19, has had a disastrous couple of weeks. He cut short his birthday party after a scuffle between his entourage and a nightclub’s security outfit. He arrived two hours late for a March 4 concert, fainted backstage at another concert on March 7, and was filmed yelling at paparazzi on March 9.

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None of this is close to career-ending, but it still evokes the stories of generations of child stars who have trouble handling fame, money, and adolescence. The difference is that, per his usual style, Bieber is pouring his reactions out on Twitter, in rants that are long on emotion and short on punctuation. (“rumors rumors and more rumors. nothing more nothing less. might talk about them 1 day. rt now im just gonna be positive. cant bring me down”)

In some corners, these tweets are drawing sympathy and support. But they’re largely calling attention to a coming train wreck. Each tweet that indicates a fragile mental state is like catnip to a voracious celebrity press, and the cycle goes on. If the pressures of work and fame are getting to be too much, Bieber should consider giving himself a break — mentally, physically, and technologically.

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