According to our analytics, if you’re reading this, then you probably found this article through Facebook. According to the moderated comments section, there’s also a pretty good chance that you’re a spambot here to babble nonsense while trying to get me to click a link to some virus-laden porn site.
Although you have taught me how to be a better cat parent
You can actually see it from space
It’s obvious that Facebook has changed how people stay connected. The average Facebook user has 338 friends, despite the fact that, cognitively, we’re only capable of maintaining real relationships with ~150 people. Which explains why there are so many Facebook “friends” of yours that you don’t actually recognize.
With so many people connected to so many others, the number of friends of friends becomes huge. For example, let’s say Jane has 338 Facebook friends, and each one of those has 300 other, mutually exclusive friends. That means that Jane’s secondary connection network, a term I just made up but seems pretty apt, is 101 400 people. If each of them had 300 independent friends, Jane’s tertiary connection network soars above 30 million.
Which is a lot of Farmville requests for Jane
In fact, on average, each of the 1.6 billion people on Facebook are connected to everyone else on Facebook by 3.5 degrees of separation. That means that if you’re on Facebook, by odds you’re only separated from everyone else on Facebook by around 3.5 people.
And you know what that means: I’m only 3.5 people away from pop sensation Justin Bieber
According to that link above, I can’t be very far removed from Justin Bieber. Think about it: He has to have a Facebook account, right? I think it’s mandatory for pop stars between 15-25 to have every social media account possible. Also, he’s from Canada, the same country as me, so we’re probably even closer. Which might be a song of his.
It is not
So, I’m going to find him. On Facebook. The real Justin Bieber. And then we’re going to be friends.
Friends, Justin. Friends forever. And ever. And ever.
I should probably clarify some things first, though. First, I don’t actually know that much about Justin Bieber. This isn’t because I want to be cool in an anti-mainstream way, he just hasn’t appeared in my radar that often. Here’s what I know:
- He’s a divisive figure, with a rabid fan base and equally rabid group of “haters”.
- I also know he sings that song asking if it’s too late to say sorry, because I’ve heard that song once per hour since about February 2016, regardless of where I am.
- He either previously dated, or currently dates, actor/probably singer Selena Gomez, star of the hit TV show or movie The Wizards of Waverly Place, the latter bit of knowledge I have no clue how I know.
- He went through a “dark period” in either 2015 or 2014, where he probably got into drugs or hit someone with a car or maybe got arrested, presumably because his handlers told him he needed to go through his “Britney phase” to stay relevant to his fickle target demographic.
Only now, when the consumers start buying Ariana Grande, do you understand the true power of the dark side
Second, I don’t know a great deal about Facebook stalking. There may be a better way of doing this than what I’m about to do, but I wouldn’t suggest making a vlog about it.
Unless you’re an expert
So, my prior knowledge is lacking. Nonetheless, I will find him. To make it a challenge, though, let’s set some rules. First, I’m going to try to track Justin down through accounts and articles I see on Facebook. Second, I’m going to throw in science facts where applicable. This is still a science blog, dammit, even if I am looking for a pop singer through social media.
Scientists are just as good at making pouty faces
Justin Bieber: The Facebook Account – At first, I thought my mission was over before it began. I typed “Justin Bieber” into Facebook and it brought me to what appeared to be his actual page. Then I noticed it was just a fan page, with an option to “Like” but not “Add friend”, a sure sign that Justin isn’t actually monitoring this page. This is no good. I want Justin Bieber, the real person, not Justin Bieber, Musician/Band. This page is an impostor.
A justmoji won’t suffice, Justin
Science fact: Capgras syndrome is a mental disorder in which a person believes someone else has been replaced by an identical impostor.
Aside from that, this page doesn’t tell me much. It posts a bunch of videos from his new album, Porpoise, which I don’t listen to but imagine is just a bunch of high-pitched clicks and squeals. His photos are mostly him schilling various merchandise while looking into a camera seemingly placed on the sun.
90% of being a pop star is the ability to look sexy while squinting
This is getting me nowhere. I leave a message on his page in what I presume is his vernacular in the unlikely event he just friends me, then move on.
Selena Gomez – Next, I check Selena Gomez’s account to see if she’s friends with anyone named Justin, or J Biebs, or some obvious pseudonym Justin Bieber would make to throw off creeps trying to find him on Facebook. All I find is another fan page, though, so no friend creeping to be had here. Ironically, though, I see an astonishing number of my own Facebook friends “Like” Selena Gomez.
“Astonishing” here meaning > 0
Science fact: Selenium was discovered in 1817 and was named after the Moon. It’s toxic to humans.
When I typed “Selena Gomez” into Facebook, I was inundated with tabloid articles revealing that Justin Bieber just followed Selena Gomez on Instagram again.
This is news, because Justin is romantically involved with someone called Hailey Baldwin, so I guess he and Selena broke up at some point. One look at Hailey Baldwin reveals she’s related to Hollywood’s famous Baldwin brothers.
Lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes
Hailey Baldwin – I thought I was on to something here. Surely Hailey Baldwin would tag, or link, or otherwise connect to her boyfriend on Facebook in at least one post, right?
Somehow, Hailey Baldwin also has a fan page, even though she’s literally less famous than Billy Baldwin. Specifically, she’s a “Public Figure”. Actually, scratch that, that’s not specific at all. You know who else is a public figure? Literally everyone who goes out in public. There’s a man in downtown Toronto who wears a Santa hat and no shirt and calls himself “Zanta”. He’s a public figure. He does not have a fan page. Hailey Baldwin does.
I’m feeling pretty shut out now. It’s clear Justin Bieber and his friends are far too cool and don’t want anything to do with me.
Science fact: Social rejection triggers the anterior cingulate cortex, the same neural region activated by physical pain
Out of frustration, I “Share” Daniel Baldwin’s unofficial fan page with Science Ninja Anthony Morgan.
I’m actually pretty much out of ideas now. Racking my brain, I think back to something I found on Bieber’s fan page.
Fun fact: There’s no such thing as “Pop R&B”
Stratford, ON – Turns out the Biebs is from Stratford, Ontario. I’ve actually been to Stratford once, to see a performance of King Lear. It was largely forgettable. At least, it must have been, because I’ve largely forgotten it. Anyways, the real Bieber must be friends with Stratford, ON. Let’s take a look.
If you thought that this was all a set-up for some big reveal, it wasn’t. Turns out the Stratford page is ALSO a fan page. Which is a shame, because it could use some friends, judging by the solid grey expanse that is its cover picture. It has no mention of Justin Bieber or King Lear, and the #2 result for “sightseeing” is a completely different town called Sebringville. No wonder the kid left.
It’s too late to say sorry to Cordelia, Lear
Science Fact: Centralia, Pennsylvania, is a ghost town that was slowly abandoned due to an underground mine fire that has been burning there since 1962. It may burn for another 250 years.
That’s that, I guess. Here Facebook is telling me I’m only 3.5 people away from everyone, and I can’t even find a living soul
Which actually symbolizes the Facebook experience pretty well
It would be inappropriate at this point to start trying to dig up people from Stratford to connect me to Justin, and frankly, my Facebook research keeps getting disrupted by a news report of a bald eagle and Canada goose fighting (spoiler: the eagle wins).
Join me next week, where I examine why Canada has such an awful suck-swan named after it
So, what’s the lesson in all of this? I guess it’s that I don’t know anyone who knows Justin Bieber, and that celebrities don’t want to be friends with anyone on Facebook. Don’t even bother trying.
That’s the closest you’re gonna get, kids
Science Fact: A high glutamate to GABA ratio leads to enhanced feelings of disappointment.