Six days ago, a Cornell student named Jonathan was sitting at the restaurant Table 278 in the Statler when he joked to his friends that Justin Bieber was coming to Cornell. For a split second, they believed him.
So, it turned out, would many more. After realizing that he was joking, Jonathan’s friends said that he “wouldn't be able to convince five people that it was true.” He proved them wrong by a few thousand.
Sorry, sorority sisters, chronic Facebook stalkers and those tired of the subpar karaoke performances at Rulloff’s: Despite Cornell’s attempts to increase its worldwide visibility, international heartthrob Bieber does not appear to have any plans to attend the University, according to an email from an official at Island Def Jam Music Group who also insisted his name not be used.
The official said that while he could not conclusively disprove the widely proliferated rumor that Bieber is Big Red bound, he “believe[s] the claim is false.”
On Monday night, in response to an interview request, Jonathan told The Sun that he was the originator of the recent Big Red Bieber fever.
After his lunch at Statler, Jonathan tweeted from the feed of a Collegetown restaurant for which he works that Bieber would be joining the Class of 2016. After the rumor was picked up by an online discussion board, Jonathan asked a friend to write an article about it, which he submitted as a mock interview with Bieber to the website Soycberty.
“I just thought it would be a small thing, at this point, and never thought more than a few people I was in direct contact with would ever believe it,” Jonathan said. “I put it on a friend's wall and it got like 25 likes (mostly people who knew I had made it up). And then a million people I didn't know kept reposting it.”
He added that he found it “funny” that so many people believed such a “poorly written interview.”
“I think people just read the headline and believed it without taking into account how illegitimate the source was,” Jonathan said.
The official from Def Jam agreed.
“It sounds like a total bogus interview; Bieber doesn’t even talk like that,” he said.
The unseriousness of the original post, however, did not stop the myth from growing as it spread like wildfire on Facebook, the blogosphere and elsewhere.
Charles Cho ’11, for instance, tweeted: “Justin Bieber at Cornell next year #baby.”
In response, Corey Brezak ’11, a former Sun columnist, wrote on Twitter that he was not sure “what’s more ridiculous, Justin Bieber enrolling at Cornell or Tim Tebow to the Jets.”
“Pretty amazing that Justin Bieber is attending Cornell at only 12 years of age,” Brezak added.
Unfortunately for Brezak, Bieber, who is 18, does not appear to be attending Cornell.
“We haven’t heard anything about him going [to Cornell], so I don’t believe there’s any truth to that [rumor],” the Def Jam official said.
As for Jonathan, he said he does not harbor any ill will toward Bieber — though, despite being the man who started it all, he wishes Cornellians spent their time more productively.
“I don't have much against JB. I guess I'm just jealous of such an accomplished young man,” he said. “It was kind of upsetting to see how excited people were. Ron Paul was here that day and, honestly, I heard nothing about that, which is much more interesting.”
That is not to say, of course, that the mastermind of Cornell’s brief stint of Bieber-mania was too surprised.
The wide response to the rumor, Jonathan said, was “kind of expected, since Justin Bieber is so talked about and loved.”