Selena Gomez became the first woman on Instagram to reach 400 million followers this week. She’s now the third most followed person on the platform behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. When Selena posts on IG, then, it’s always a story. And this morning… well… she’s given us a story. Hopefully, the final chapter in a story that many corners of social media don’t want to end. Can we please end this mess between her and Hailey Bieber?!
The history here is exhausting. And I’m not spending my energy on it. Almost every outlet has a timeline of the situation anyway – ELLE’s is quite thorough and you can read through that if you need to revisit the backstory which can be summarised as: Selena, Hailey, and Justin are their generation’s Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, and Brad Pitt. It’s an eternal love triangle. The difference here, though, is in the media. When the whole Jen-Angie-Brad thing went down, the culture wasn’t dominated by amateur gossips on Twitter, Instagram, and especially TikTok. It was the tabloid media, the paparazzi, and the blogs, me included. Already intrusive and overwhelming, no doubt, but at the very least, if you can even say that, it wasn’t literally in the palm of their hands.
For Selena and Hailey, the tabloids, the paps, and the blogs are still around, but they’ve been joined by millions of people on social media pumping out tweets and reels and comments on apps that Selena and Hailey use themselves. So it’s right up in their faces. And sorry, grandma, it’s useless at this point to say that they could simply put their phones down. Because they actually can’t. Our devices are our lives – it’s a sh-tty reality to accept but it’s reality nonetheless. We need our phones now more than ever. To bank, to get places, to know what’s next on the schedule, to check on the kids, etc etc etc; like, sure, you can turn off all the notifications but then a WhatsApp message will pop up from one of your friends, or family members, which is what often happens with celebrities, and someone in the inner circle will be all, um, FYI, this is what’s happening …and then there’s nowhere to run. Twitter and TikTok users are saying this and that about you and now you know.
To go back to Selena and Hailey then, so much of it, in fact the majority of it, is fueled by randoms. And the ripple effect of this is staggering, to the point that people who aren’t even associated with them can’t escape it. Every week, I get dozens or more emails from a woman (she’s on Team Bieber) sending me crazy amounts of links and/or screencaps of “evidence” that Selena has been scheming against the Biebers. The “evidence” is accompanied by an alarming amount of writing, obsessively ripping apart every word Selena has ever said. It’s crazy the amount of work that goes into this … analysis. And that’s on top of my mentions and in my DMs on social media, where every hour I’m getting sent TikToks of randoms out there putting together conspiracy theories about what’s really happening between Selena, Hailey, and Justin. Just this week, someone posted a video on TikTok about a five year timeline. Something, something about an expiration date for the Bieber marriage because of green card or immigration issues, suggesting that Hailey and JB are about to split because it’ll be five years in September.
These are the people microscoping every eyelash on Selena and Hailey’s social media posts and assigning meaning to the most inconsequential sh-t the way Taylor Swift’s fans do with all her Easter egging. But the thing about the Taylor Swift eggs is that, well, most of the time they’re not eggs – as the Swifties say, they are clowning themselves all the time.
Only the people who’ve invited themselves into Selena and Hailey’s situation don’t think they’re clowning themselves. And I’m not saying here that the players in this story – from Selena and Hailey to their adjacents, like Kylie Jenner and Taylor herself and their friend circles – aren’t petty and shady … because of course, they’re all full of drama, just like the rest of us, but the way this has exploded, the way every single fingernail and eyelash has been dissected, and especially the way people have reacted to it, by leaving comments wishing death and destruction, writing the most heinous sh-t in the comments, it’s outrageously out of control. Wayyyyyy beyond whatever interpretation you may choose to have about the relationship between these women. In these times, though, that’s how the social media behaviour can not just amplify a story, but push it in a given direction and interfere with its legitimacy.
Selena is now following Hailey on Instagram. She also posted this in stories:
Selena Gomez speaks out against the hate Hailey Bieber has been receiving:— Pop Base (@PopBase) March 24, 2023
â€œHailey Bieber reached out to me and let me know that she has been receiving death threats and such hateful negativity. (...) I've always advocated for kindness and really want this all to stop. â¤ï¸â€ pic.twitter.com/nNWA2ivqE0
All you have to do is scroll down and look at some of the replies to that tweet. There are people who are actually saying they won’t stop perpetuating this f-ckery. That in spite of Selena’s clarification that she and Hailey have been in touch and her appeal to people to stop with the harassment, they are refusing to let it go.
So to me, this story isn’t actually about the celebrities who are involved, but about how we gossip about the celebrities, and the impact that TikTok in particular is having on the gossip ecosystem. Are we actually gossiping about celebrities anymore? Or are we gossiping about the gossip about the celebrities that didn’t actually come from the people we’re supposed to be gossiping about?!