Obsessions: Are you a Belieber?

At 16, he is a Youtube sensation and the most Googled name on the planet. Justin Bieber is hated by some and adored by many. Are these fixations good for us?

'I have the biggest crush on Beyonce,' says the boy. 'It can never be possible so it's just a fantasy.'

The person speaking is the Canadian Justin Bieber, a 16 year old singer now worth over £100 million, and himself the fantasy of countless young girls.

'He's just awesome!' says a fan at one of his concerts as she takes a short break from hysterical screaming. Bieber, however, is familiar with this. 'They meet me, shriek and pass out,' he says, as if this is entirely normal. And for him, of course, it is.

Winning the International Breakthrough category at this year's Brit awards was just one more step in his inexorable stroll to world stardom. And with 7 million Twitter followers, he doesn't stroll alone.

'Every one of my fans is special to me,' he says, adding as a personal note to each one of them: 'It all happened because of you.'

And what has happened? A young boy who used to busk inexpertly in the streets to raise money to take his mother to Disneyland is now the biggest teen star in the world since Michael Jackson.

He's even given rise to a new word in the Urban Dictionary: 'Belieber' – 'a person who just loves Justin Bieber and beliebes in everything that he can do.'

Not everyone is a belieber, however.

'I think he looks like a computer avatar,' says the journalist Helen Brown. 'It's the smooth helmet of hair and the upturned little nose…he has such big eye lashes that chat room gossips think he's a girl.'

Some are a great deal more hostile, displaying an obsessional hate. They call him a 'Canadian foetus', spread 'Bieber bile' on the internet and defiantly ban his CDs from their parties.

Justin admits he does sometimes take a look at the online comments. What does he find? ''You're so stupid!' or 'Your song sucks!' I even get 'You're gay' for no apparent reason.'

And how does he feel about people going to such efforts to rubbish him? 'People who hate you – they're going to take time to hate you,' he says.

Addicted city
It comes in all shapes and sizes. But from the fleeting and harmless to the persistent and dangerous, obsession is an addiction.

And like all addictions, while it's exhilarating at first, it quickly brings imbalance, causing us to neglect parts of our lives that we shouldn't.

'It's OK to love a singer, and it's totally normal to have his pictures all over your room,' says psychologist Susan Bartell. 'But the people you should really have as heroes are people in your real life, someone who can love you back.'

You Decide

  1. What does obsession say about humans?
  2. When does obsession become unhealthy?

Activities

  1. 'The one good obsession'. Each choose what you believe to be a good obsession. Prepare your case, and then in a group, debate it with others.
  2. Write a letter to Justin Bieber. What would you like to say? HEROES?

Some People Say...

“Fantasy beats real life.”

What do you think?

Q & A

So is obsession harmful?
Depends how we handle it. At its worst, it's like an iron mask that only allows us to look in one direction and at one thing, which isn't great.
And is it just people we get fixated by?
Not at all. We could be fixated by a place, a goal or an idea. Hitler was obsessed with the idea of an ethnically pure master race – and took a nation with him in his fixation.
So what's Justin Bieber's secret?
Well, he can sing a little and has a pleasant face. But these in themselves don't explain his fame. Perhaps he's a blank canvas onto which everyone can paint their own colours. He becomes whatever people want him to be.A Maybe. It's usually an attempt to make up for something missing in us. We project our needs onto someone or something else.

Subjects

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