That was a pretty confusing title wasn’t it? Even I was impressed by how random it sounded! Where the heck did it come from?

Short answer: Instagram

Long answer: I saw this news story about 3 Canadian ladies, all in their late 20’s, who were on a cruise from England to Australia, when it was discovered that they were smuggling circa 200lb of cocaine. What was news-worthy was that they documented the whole cruise on Instagram, and if you didn’t know any better, it would look like your average ‘Girl’s Getaway’ starring 3 obviously wealthy, pretty, young women. The Instagram pics probably look a lot like ones you might take on your own vacation. There’s the scenic hiking poses, requisite bikini pic, and even one dedicated to dear-ol’ mom. The various news outlets covering the story just loved how 3 seemingly normal looking women were a part of an extensive crime syndicate.

Here is where I think this story gets interesting, and where the peculiar title to this blog comes in:

If you only knew these women on social media, you would likely be incredibly surprised by their arrest.

Why is that?

Because quite simply: The lives you see on social media are a fantasy that blends ‘what is‘ with ‘what could be‘. If our lives on social media were made into a movie, it would have the sub-title “Based on a true story.” (In hindsight- this would have been an awesome title for this blog, but at this point- I’m already committed). If you only knew these women by their  online personas, you would see flawless make-up, designer clothes, curvy bodies, and the money it must take to pay for that kind of vacation. You would also see 3 women who were clearly having a great time and you might infer that they lead active social lives and get a good bit of male attention to boot.

These women are a prime example of how what we see on social media isn’t necessarily an accurate portrayal of real life. When the cameras weren’t flashing for the trio, they were strategizing on the best places to hide 200lb of cocaine to get past border patrol. We didn’t see the fear and anxiety they must have experienced. They didn’t Snapchat the terror they felt just before they were discovered. Nor did they post to twitter #desperateforcash or #studentloandebt explaining their motivations. All we saw is a pretty picture of an attractive girl in a bikini on some beach at sunset.

In the last couple of years there has been some research on how social media affects mental health. Some researchers found a link between Facebook and depression, while other studies have cautioned that it’s still too early to draw conclusions. However, one that I found to be particularly telling was this… Facebook use doesn’t predict depression; but envy does.

If you are the type of person that sees another person’s successes and the only feelings you experience for that person are genuine pleasure at their happiness, than social media likely won’t impact your mental health. However, if you see a friend holding her brand new designer handbag, brunching at the new it restaurant, with a giant diamond on her hand as it lovingly clutches her handsome beau, and you feel the slight urge to push her off a cliff while downing Pinot Grigio; than social media might make you feel sad, anxious, or stressed.

I think the whole point of this post is this: when you scroll through your newsfeed and start to feel like you are the odd-man out in your social circle; you don’t have the love, the money, or the bodies they have; just remember that any one of them could be a drug dealer! JUST KIDDING! But really, try to keep in mind that you are only getting one small piece of the story that is their life. It is normal to feel like you don’t measure up to others sometimes. Give yourself a little break, and if you feel like you’re really struggling with feelings of sadness, isolation, or anxiety- don’t be hesitant to reach out to a counselor like myself, who can work with you to get you to a better, more balanced place.

-Nicole Rubin

To see the original news story, click here

For more on Facebook and envy, click here

When You Judge A Book By It’s Cover; Sometimes Drug Dealers Hide Inside
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