Influencer blames Instagram for $20k holiday debt

A wannabe social media influencer is blaming Instagram for her crippling $20,000 debt from an overseas trip she couldn’t afford.

Victorian woman Fiona Melbul, 27, told A Current Affairshe spent thousands on holidays because it “felt good” to make her friends jealous when seeing her photos on Instagram.

“You take those 10, 20 shots to take the perfect one, post on social media, then you wait for your friends to see it,” she said.

“Then you get all those comments of them being jealous. It makes me feel good that I can do that.”

So when her brother told her he was going to the United States, she decided to join him on a six-week trip — even though she knew she couldn’t really afford it.

“My brother said, ‘I’m going to Disneyland’. I said, ‘You’re not going without me!’ So I got a loan,” she said.

“I think the trip, all-up, costs about 8k. All on credit.”

Ms Melbul’s quest for social media glory saw her credit card debt spiral to $20,000, forcing her to move back in with her parents so she could get on top of her finances.

Psychologist Christine Bagley-Jones told A Current Affair many Australians who saw loved ones or influencers living it up on social media may think spending would lead to happiness.

“It just is like fast food, not very substantial and nutritious, you’ve gotta keep going back for another hit,” Dr Bagley-Jones said.

“We’re connected all the time and we’re constantly being reminded of what other people are doing, and that status-envy and downward comparing leads us to strive for this other life that’s not our own.”

She also explained some social media users got instant gratification from spending, but it was short-lived with a potentially devastating long-term effect.

“It’s that instant gratification — you do get a little rush when you spend — your mind starts to release the dopamine and serotonin that gets us all excited,” Dr Bagley-Jones said.

“But it’s short-lived, and the long-term consequences are quite devastating for some.”

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