I keep seeing stars lashing out at their "haters." Like Demi Lovato yelling at her haters on Twitter and Justin Bieber talking about them on stage. Why do they care so much about strange people who hate them?
—McKenzie, Rhode Island, via Facebook
It's a good question.
During his American Music Awards acceptance speech, Bieber could've just left the stage after thanking his fans, his mom and his manager. But no: Like many young stars, he seems obsessed with people who dare to tell him he's anything but amazeballs and destined for legend-hood.
During his speech, Bieber said, "I want to say this is for all the haters who thought that I was just here for one or two years. I feel like I'm going to be here for a very long time." (I guess all those critics write those negative reviews because they're, like, jealoussss.)
So why the fixation?
Well, chalk it up to good old-fashioned human vulnerability. And—just maybe—a touch of narcissism.
Unlike the rest of us, "most of the time, stars can just choose what to concern themselves with, what to care about, what to dismiss or ignore," says Harvard psychiatrist John Sharp, author of The Emotional Calendar. "I see insulation that often borders on isolation, alternating with great sensitivity and a strong, sometimes narcissistic desire to be loved. When this balance is struck in a healthy way, celebs can protect themselves from every possible critique.
"However, when this balance is off, celebs may become either out of touch on the one hand, or overly touchy on the other. The latter is probably what we are seeing here."
In other words, you should give these people some credit: Lashing out at a hater isn't typical of stars. Otherwise you'd see them Tweeting nastygrams to haters every day. No, something is likely going on in their lives that's making them feel more vulnerable, and they're feeling the need to "fight back."
"Justin is having a tough time these days with his on-again, off-again relationship with Selena Gomez," media psychiatrist Carole Lieberman tells me. "He's admitted to being confused, so haters are getting to him more at this time of self-doubt."
Let's hope that fan letters are more effective, too.