The thing about the Internet is that it is simultaneously one of the greatest and absolute worst places in the world. It’s Friday night and you’re tired and just want a pizza but don’t feel like putting on shoes or a bra. The Internet can help you with that. You’re feeling a little lonely and wonder if anyone else has a fear of holes. The Internet is here for you. Or you’re easily taken advantage of because you’re young, impressionable, and in a state of perpetually trying to “figure it out.” The Internet is totally here for that, too.
After some photos surfaced a few days ago showing what appeared to be Justin Bieber smoking marijuana, some really smart, busy folks over at 4Chan thought that it would be funny to start a Twitter campaign aimed at getting young girls to cut themselves as some sort of protest against Bieber’s drug use. The hash tags #CutforBieber and #CuttingforBieber were soon trending worldwide, with some tweets accompanied by both real and fake photographs of self-harm.
There are two issues at play here, one being the Internet’s desire to jump at the chance to make a mockery of young girls, somehow proving to the world that they, devoted Beliebers in particular, are a gullible bunch longing for inclusion and acceptance. The other is recognizing that it can be tough figuring out the appropriate ways to respond when your idol gets in trouble or lets you down.
Believe me, I know what it’s like to be disappointed in one of your idols. I was given the Thriller record (yes, record) long before I understood what MJ was really talking about when he sang, “but the kid is not my son,” and then twirled, did a toe stand and grabbed his crotch, a move I’m still working on perfecting. I grew up loving that man as if he were a member of my own family. And yet somehow I managed to live through his many faces, scandals and untimely death, and emerge from the wreckage still believing that he was the greatest pop star of our time despite all that mess.
Bieber’s life and career troubles haven’t been, and hopefully never will be, as tragic as Jackson’s, but it’s understandable if the Biebs’ marijuana use, or the response to it, is upsetting to you. Knowing how to cope with this and any other of life’s disappointments (brace yourselves, there will be many) is a skill that a lot of us struggle with, whether we’re 13 or 30. I do know that self-harm is never the best way to express disappointment, sadness, anger, or anxiety about this or anything else, even if it feels that way at the time. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this faux campaign is that it minimizes the fact that self-harm, and the mental and psychological aspects that contribute to it, is serious and burdens a lot of people everyday, often hindering them from leading happy, productive lives. On the other hand, maybe we can gain something positive from this by opening up a discussion on self-harm and providing resources to those who are suffering. Self-Injury Outreach and Support is a good place to start.
One healthy and productive way of coping is talking it out with someone you respect and trust. Writing it out, or expressing yourself creatively through other outlets, can be therapeutic. Also, what I have found to be incredibly useful is remembering that regardless of how talented, or famous, or iconic anyone is – they’re still people with flaws and blemishes just like you and me. In the end, Justin Bieber’s just a guy. This will likely become a blip on the radar of his legacy because in the grand scheme of things, my little baby boo is doing more than all right. Justin Bieber will be fine. And so will you.
Featured image via National Post