When No One Is Looking

January 31, 2018

 

If you're a frequent user of Instagram, it should not be hard to imagine this: you open your app and the top two posts on your feed are from different accounts, but both belong to the same person. In the first post, the picture is carefully edited with a caption tagged with thanksgiving to God. In the second post, the picture seems to be a poorly shot photo of something random and the accompanying caption is laced with anger and frustration. Two very different posts by two different accounts, yet posted by the same person. Yep, we’re talking about Instagram spam accounts in this issue.


For those unfamiliar with spam accounts — here is a quick explanation of what it is. Existing Instagram users have been creating a second account that is commonly characterised as such: the account has a very small number of followers that usually comprise the user’s close friends, the user posts rather frequently, and captions are usually more open and candid. Basically, if you perceive Instagram accounts to be a collection of curated photos or moments with well-written captions, spam accounts are the complete opposite.


What's Happening On My Spam Account?

 

Creating a space to be completely open with our friends may seem unique to the Instagram age, but it isn’t anything new! During my secondary school days, this was done in the form of private blogs; you could only read someone’s private blog if you had the password to it. Going back even further to primary school, notebooks with number locks were in nearly every girl’s school bag; if you wanted to read someone’s diary, you had to know the number combination. Seeking a safe space to share your private thoughts is something common to all — Instagram is just the current platform to do so.

 

So, what about spam accounts? I have observed that many tend to hold nothing back when posting on spam accounts. We post whatever we want, whenever we want, without the pressure of posting a certain type of image or portraying ourselves in a certain way. After all, that is what a private spam account is for, right?

 

Hear me out — it’s good to find a safe space to be honest about your feelings. However, in seeking to create such a space, we build walls and keep people out. Sometimes, we even keep safe people out — people who love us and want to journey with us through our struggles. For those who currently own a secondary social media account as a private and honest space, have you built the walls of privacy way too high?

 

Outside the walls of privacy, on the main account, we present ourselves carefully. We make sure our photos are nice and the captions are pleasing to read. However, once we are within the walls of privacy, we let loose. Some use the space to vent their anger, some spew out their frustrations, and some express their sadness. If we take a step back and look at both accounts side by side, they might look like they belong to two completely different people! The danger of posting liberally in a separate account is this: we don't think about nor exercise self-control. We seem to forget that we are still accountable for what we say on that ‘exclusive’ space. Has your spam account turned from a safe space to a toxic one? Let me break it down for you.

 

Safe Spaces Vs Toxic Spaces

 

To me, safe spaces are not just characterised by vulnerability and openness, they are also characterised by guidance and growth. I don’t just want to vent my frustration, I want someone to help me overcome my struggle. Toxic spaces are quite the opposite. While they can also be characterised by vulnerability and openness, the spaces don’t help you get out of the struggle. On the contrary, toxic spaces can cause your negative emotions to intensify or, even worse, make you feel like your emotions are completely justified.

 

Creating a spam account might have been an effort to create a safe space for yourself. However, this ‘safe’ space can quickly turn toxic. Spam accounts are expected to be filled with brutal honesty about how we feel, but for most of us, we don’t want people to guide and correct us in response to our rawest emotions — we don’t want brutal honesty about whether our actions are pleasing to God. But what if a friend approaches you and says, “I think you shouldn’t have posted that” — how would you respond?

 

Does God See My Spam Account?

 

"Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord" (Jer 23:24 ESV).In seeking to create a safe space to express ourselves or to vent, we might have forgotten that, whether in secret, in private, or in public, we are accountable for our actions. God sees our actions, and He also sees our hearts. Ultimately, the way that we live should honour God. That means that every aspect of our lives should be consistent — whether online or offline; whether private or public.

 

The loving news is this: when we are messy, broken, lost, or angry, God sees and He reaches out to us. He beckons us into His love and kindness — a place where true joy and peace can be found.

 

While we seek to create a safe space to feel better by ranting and venting our frustrations, it is only a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Will you let God in behind the walls and let Him call you out into a place of true freedom? When you’re ready, let someone you trust like a leader or a pastor walk with you through your struggles. When you need a listening ear, let your first instinct be to run to God in prayer before running to your phone. He is the safest place.

To read the full article, you may purchase Issue here!

 

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