There is only one winner in the war between Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber

ANDElizabeth Taylor vs. Debbie Reynolds. Joan Crawford vs. Bette Davis. Paris Hilton vs. Lindsay Lohan. Rumors of celebrity feuds have stood the test of time, but none have more people involved than Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber.

For those who weren’t born in the late 90s or early 2000s and didn’t have a signed Justin Bieber poster from the magazine tigerbeat Tacked to your childhood bedroom wall, the so-called “feud” between a beloved Disney Channel star and the ultimate representative of nepo babies may come as a surprise. But perhaps the reason why our feeds Social media outlets have been inundated with resurfaced videos, tattoo comparisons, and eyebrow close-ups, it’s because this renewed drama between Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber is a dream come true for those of us who live on nostalgia.

To start at the beginning, we must go back to the glory days of the relationship between Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, also known as “Jelena”; a tween girl’s version of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The ‘Baby’ singer and star of Wizards of Waverly Place they were a perfect couple. The two made their red carpet debut at the Oscars party inVanity Fair in February 2011. That same month, Hailey and Justin posed for a photo together at the premiere of their movie, Never Say Never, along with her father, Stephen Baldwin.

In fact, the first photo of Hailey and Justin together dates back to 2009, proving that Hailey Bieber is the queen of the rally.

Over the next two years, Selena and Justin had a lot of back and forth and broke up once again in 2015. That same year, Justin was seen kissing Hailey on New Year’s Eve in the Turks and Caicos Islands while Selena was out partying with her former friend Kendall Jenner in Dubai. Normal celebrity stuff.

The two had their fair share of romances (Justin with Sofia Richie, Selena with The Weeknd) before reconciling in 2017. But in May 2018, they called it quits for good. Two months later, Justin proposed to Hailey and they got married in September.

Almost five years have passed since then, which means that all this should have be said and done. But the internet never forgets, especially now that we have TikTok.

The alleged 10-year feud found new life on the video-sharing platform recently after Hailey posted a now-deleted TikTok that many people interpreted as mocking Selena’s looks. Hailey was quick to deny it, responding to a fan on TikTok that the video was “not directed at anyone.”

Even Selena left a comment on the video, adding that she doesn’t let these things “get her down.”

Days later, the ‘Wolves’ singer posted a video of herself on Instagram, where she shared that she had accidentally over-foiled her brows. In a turn of events, Kylie Jenner posted a photo of her and Hailey’s eyebrows to her Instagram story earlier that day, in case fans needed more drama to speculate about.

The Kylie Cosmetics founder was quick to deny the “shady” claims as well, when she commented in a viral TikTok post: “It’s an exaggeration. There was no mockery of Selena ever, and I didn’t see the eyebrow posts from her! They are making something out of nothing. It’s nonsense.”

A clip then also circulated of Hailey apparently being dismissive of Selena’s best friend, Taylor Swift. Selena then dethroned Kylie as the most followed woman on Instagram, and finally Selena discontinued her use of social media altogether. All a whirlwind.

In the last week, it seems that the feeds of all have been inundated with TikTok videos about the alleged dispute. Even Selena Gomez fans now make her partners take sides by forcing them to follow her on Instagram. But why does the internet care so much? Well, the tiktokers behind the viral videos seem to have a few theories.

Amanda is a 28-year-old pop culture enthusiast with a professional background in influencer marketing. On TikTok, Amanda has over 23,000 followers on her Let’s Talk Pop Culture account, where her Selena/Hailey-themed videos have amassed millions of views. As someone who grew up when #Jelena was relevant, Amanda believes that people are so invested in it because she reminds us of the good old days.

“I feel like for a lot of people, at least for this generation, this was the first young couple in Hollywood,” Amanda tells The Independent. “People were such fans of Justin Bieber that I felt like no one was going to let the person Justin Bieber was dating get away with it easily. But for some reason, because it was Selena Gomez, who was considered an American icon, I think people were okay with it.”

Gómez, who started in the children’s program barney and friends when she was just 10 years old, she became a fan darling as Disney Channel’s rogue magician Alex Russo in Wizards of Waverly Place. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber embodied the modern American (or in this case, Canadian) dream, which of course is getting discovered on YouTube. Together, coming from similar backgrounds (both Selena and Justin were raised by single mothers), the two seemed like the perfect match.

“I think just because a lot of us grew up with Selena Gomez on the Disney Channel, we’ve seen her as someone we identify with or someone who’s like a friend to us. There is pent-up interest in it,” says Cami Twomey, a pop culture and entertainment tiktoker with 591,000 followers. “But also Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez’s relationship, when it was at its peak, drew a lot of attention. It’s something that people still constantly bring up today, and I think people are protective of Selena Gomez.”

Then, there are those of us who just mess around and live for nostalgia-filled drama.

“I think the reason everyone is so interested is because you always want to know: are Justin and Hailey going to measure up? Will they love each other as much as we all thought Justin loved Selena?” says Jennifer Kowalski, a licensed professional counselor at Thriveworks who specializes in relationships, behavioral issues and trauma.

“It’s almost like watching a car crash,” she jokes.

To many, Selena was like the cool older sister who promised not to rat you out when you ran away from home, but made sure you got home at a reasonable time. After leaving her show, as many former Disney Channel stars do, she pursued a career in music. She has been candid about her mental health journey, most recently with her Apple TV+ documentary, my mind and me. In 2015, he revealed that he has lupus, a long-term incurable condition that affects the immune system. Two years later, she underwent a kidney transplant at just 24 years old due to lupus-related organ damage.

Selena’s candor with her fans is partly why the internet has overwhelmingly sided with her in this alleged feud. And if you need proof of who’s taking sides, just look at the comments on Hailey’s Instagram account. She is brutal. However, it’s Selena’s vulnerability—even if it’s a positive thing to be open with your fanbase—that may be the cause of this inescapable parasocial feud.

A parasocial relationship is a type of one-sided pseudo-friendship that audiences have with characters or media personalities. The concept was first coined in 1956 by sociologists Donald Horton and Richard Wohl to describe the way media consumers interact with media figures. Since then, the term “parasocial relationship” has become a favorite internet buzzword, using it to describe everything from reactions to John Mulaney’s divorce from his wife of six years, to Johnny’s infamous defamation trial. Depp and Amber Heard.

According to Elizabeth Perse, professor emeritus of communication at the University of Delaware, parasocial relationships form much like real friendships, but they’re definitely not the same.

“A parasocial relationship is a kind of pseudo-friendship that audiences have with characters or media personalities. I use the word ‘personality’ because what the public sees through the media is not necessarily what personality is in real life,” he tells The Independent.

Before the invention of social media, parasocial relationships could be formed based on the amount of exposure someone had with a personality on the television screen. Just like real friendships, the more you interact with a person, the deeper you become in your friendship (or parasocial relationship).

“The second thing is that there is a sense of similarity that people feel with the personality,” Perse says of how these pseudo-friendships are formed. “It could be a similarity that occurs because the personality is apparently revealed through the medium. You learn about them, you feel some kind of kinship with them.”

The similarities between Selena and any other woman who dreams of making it one day are not far off, according to Jess Lucero, an entertainment reporter with 362,000 followers on TikTok. “Selena has always been known as a friendly woman. When they saw her relationship with Justin, it’s almost like these fans saw themselves in Selena, and I think that’s why they became so attached to her.”

That’s not to say that people who parasocialize with their favorite fitness influencer or blogger mom are wrong. With the flood of content coming from social media, it is inevitable that someone will become involved in the life of a stranger. Social media platforms have become breeding grounds for parasocial relationships, and access to our favorite celebrities has never been easier.

“There couldn’t be so many new tabloids per month, but now with social networks, it’s a constant every minute of every day,” says Lucero. “As soon as the news breaks, there are TikTokers like me posting: ‘Look what Selena commented on this video of Hailey.’ There are many posts about it on various news accounts. There are people who don’t even follow pop culture and are posting about it now.”

“The reach is much further, because when they were just tabloids, you could easily get them in supermarkets. But now you don’t even have to search to find out what’s going on between Selena, Hailey and Kylie.”

Maybe the internet’s interest in a decades-long feud between three celebrities isn’t parasocial at all, but with social media, it’s something much bigger. “It might even be taking the parasocial to another level, where you can really communicate one-on-one with the personality. Not with the person, but with the personality that is being created or the person who manages the social media account”, says Persa. “There is an illusion of interaction.”

It’s been over 10 years since Selena and Justin broke up, and almost five years since he married Hailey. One can only imagine how much longer this alleged feud will last, or how it will end. A duel to see who marries Justin? A televised Oprah interview in the style of Harry and Meghan? Have both parties delete their social networks completely?

If the past decade is any indication that old wounds are hard to heal, then perhaps there’s no end in sight to the drama between Selena and Hailey, as long as social media exists. But there’s one constant amid all the mess: the Internet will be waiting with a fresh bag of popcorn.

Translation of Michelle Padilla

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