One day Justin Bieber's Instagram account may become a valid study subject at hallowed places of learning, if the level of scrutiny it currently attracts is anything to go by.
Now returned from an eventful home visit to Canada, the most observed teenager in the world has kept fans and the echo chamber alike abreast of his activities via social media updates.
New facial hair, late night studio sessions, bowling with Terrell Owens, impromptu music listening with fans, an upgraded half-pipe, four-wheeler posing, candid videos and yet more shirtlessness --- by his Instagram ye shall know him.
Inevitable informational gaps are filled by paparazzi snaps and a good job too.
Otherwise we might never have known how susceptible the news cycle is to photoshopped fruit, or for that matter how clued up it is on alleged drug paraphernalia.
As per Radar Online's heavily padded story on producer-songwriter Jason "Pooh Bear" Boyd, an Instagram (which has now been deleted) posted by Bieber on Monday appeared to showed Boyd holding a "baggie of white powder."
The photo was captioned by Justin with an open-ended question asking,
"@poobearmdma whatcha got in your hand."
Radar proceeded to speculate that Boyd is in league with "international drug smugglers."
Actual evidence was scant and appeared to be based on Boyd's previous trips to the Republic of Suriname in Northern South America, a history lesson on the country's president Dési Bouterse --- himself convicted of trafficking 474 kilos of cocaine by Netherlands authorities, though he remains in power --- and reference to Boyd's alleged nickname MDMA, shorthand for a methamphetamine-based drug.
Amid media reports of this "evidence," that wouldn't get past discovery in a court of law, days later Boyd told TMZ Justin's Instagram pictures had been photoshopped with a bag of store-bought pot pourri from another Instagram uploaded by another of Bieber's friends, the rapper Xavier Smith --- also known as Lil Za.
Asked for a comment by TMZ on the Instagram posted by Justin, Boyd said, "Actually, he posted a picture of me holding a lime... I love limes."
Insisting he was not tied to an international cocaine smuggling ring the producer said "No drugs at all. Zero drugs," had passed through his hands.
Giving such reasons as his belief that mainstream media is keen to assign illegal interpretations to the activities of black people, Boyd said he made a great living from music and that he had "never had to anything illegal." He added he didn't think he was a bad influence on Bieber and said their relationship was based on making "incredible music."
TMZ posted a picture of the original Instagram which showed Boyd holding a segment of lime.
Pictures of a male hand throwing water out of smoke-billowing bong from a Mercedes-Benz van alleged to be Bieber's and snapped on Wednesday in Calabasas, Los Angeles surfaced the next day.
The identity of whoever held the bong isn't known nor is it likely to be. Naturally, conclusions have been drawn.
According to TMZ, the van was on its way to Jim Henson Studios. However, Justin wasn't snapped arriving but subsequently posted an Instagram of himself from a recording studio.
Finishing his full and much-observed week with another photo reveal, Bieber posted a rather tasty looking snap of a pasta and pesto meal. Captioned, "This pesto is the bomb," even this mundanity drew opinion.
So what have we learned this week?
Perhaps it's this:
Justin Bieber posts lots of Instagrams. The paparazzi take pictures of his every move. That some quarters of the entertainment news cycle choose to speculate, project, and possibly manipulate that content is evidence of nothing less than its own obsession.
[Images via Instagram]