“He was honest when he explained that he feels like a zoo animal,” says the source. “He wants his fans to realize that he is still a person – a person who would like a little bit of respect.”
The backlash began on March 22 when he took to Instagram to scrap all scheduled meet-and-greets on his Purpose World Tour, saying “I end up so drained and unhappy … to the point of depression.”
Then last week, after an incident at a Boston bowling alley, he aired his grievances on social media again, saying he was “done taking pictures” with fans, adding, “It has gotten to the point that people won’t even say hi to me or recognize me as a human.”
Adds another insider, “At first it was, ‘I’m so emotionally drained by you guys,’ then he got mad when people started getting mad at him.”
For more on Justin Bieber and the truth behind his strange behavior, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.
In addition to lashing out online, Bieber’s recent antics – getting a face tattoo, walking barefoot and sitting in a tree in Boston – led to a report that he is heading toward a public meltdown that could put the fate of his tour in jeopardy.
Not the case, says the source.
“He’ll do his best to deliver amazing shows at every stop,” says the source. “He is just trying to take care of himself mentally so he is able to live up to these expectations.”
In addition, his rep denies rumors of a tour cancellation, telling PEOPLE the 22-year-old is “totally fine.”
According to the source, Bieber “already feels beat” from his grueling schedule and “is not losing it. He’s just trying to find ways to focus. Visiting parks and meditating calms him.”