Social media and the internet can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand it allows us to meet people we otherwise wouldn’t be able to meet and to hear stories we wouldn’t otherwise be able to hear. At the same time, that also comes with a lot of responsibility and judgment, which people are sometimes unprepared for.
Perhaps the most intriguing travel story of last year was of the Canadian guy who broke up with his girlfriend after having booked a round the world trip for the couple. Since tickets are non-transferable and don’t allow name changes, he set out to find another girl with the same name to take on the trip with him.
Amazingly enough he found someone with the same name to take on the trip. After the trip we even got to find out how it all went — they had fun, or so they claimed.
As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, a movie is even being made about the concept, called “Non-Transferable.” Here’s the trailer for the (rather cheesy looking) movie:
Obviously the movie is only loosely based on the original story, and it sure makes it all seem like a very romantic trip. But apparently coping with the aftermath of the trip has been much more of a struggle than most would probably assume, ultimately leading to him being depressed and suicidal. I think this part of the story is just as important to share as the original.
Via The Times Of India:
“The public wanted it to be so much more salacious than it really was. We didn’t fall in love,” Mr Axani said. The aftermath of the experience became “a crazy exercise in what you do when you let the world down”, he added.
Following the media frenzy, Mr Axani, now 29, spun into a depressive state and became suicidal. “I had a total breakdown and almost killed myself. I had so much guilt about how much this hurt my previous partner and her family. I loved her very much.”
Mr Axani has been coming to terms with the guilt he felt at inadvertently humiliating his former partner and is now on good terms with her.
Things are on the up again, but this time Mr Axani is firmly in control. A “decent-sized” Hollywood film documenting his experiences is currently in the works and Mr Axani is also penning a book. In between meetings with producers and publishers Mr Axani has carved out a career as a public speaker – he recently gave a TED Talk – and has been busy setting up a mental health charity, the Bounde Foundation.
“Going viral helped me look at how I was living my life. To me the story wasn’t about traveling the world with a stranger but how to reconcile yourself with making such a huge error in judgement. Now I’m using the story to do something good.”
For anyone who’s interested, here’s Jordan Axani’s TED Talk, entitled “the problem with purpose:”
Watching that video was the best 16 minutes I spent today. The talk is mostly about finding your purpose in life, and it’s framed somewhat within the viral trip he took, in which he was trying to find his purpose. There are some great quotes regarding the trip:
- “The trip itself was a traveling roadshow press release.”
- “We smiled for the cameras because that’s really what we had to do.”
- “We went into this journey as two authentic people taking a trip together, but by the end of it we were actors. We were faking it. We knew it.”
It’s great he’s back in control of his life. This was one of the most popular human interest stories in history, with over four billion media impressions globally, and it’s easy to look at it through a rosy filter and assume it was all fun. But as is evident here, events like this can have an impact on people. It’s an interesting twist, certainly, and a good lesson. If you have the time to watch Axani’s TED Talk, I highly recommend it.
(Tip of the hat to Yash)