A couple of days ago, I woke up to a dozen or so messages on my phone telling me, in essence, that my Instagram account had been hacked.
Apparently, after I went to bed the night before, my account had been taken over by an unknown person who proceeded to upload photos in my name. It was horrifying to see strange photographs of advertisements for handphone covers in an unknown language on my Instagram feed. In just one night, I had lost my Instagram identity which I had painstakingly built over years.
I couldn’t control what was being uploaded because the account had been compromised. The user settings had been tampered with such that others could see my feed, but I was logged out of my own account.
I tried everything I knew, changing the log-in details, reporting that I had forgotten my password, and reporting the user to Instagram itself. In the meantime, more and more people were alerting me about the situation, flooding my phone with screenshots of my hijacked account, making me even more anxious. Frantic, I paced up and down the house mumbling to myself, “What am I going to do?”
Then my husband asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks. “What are you so anxious about? It’s only an Instagram account,” he said.
My immediate reaction was to shout back, “It’s not just an Instagram account!” Indeed, it was a treasure trove of memories of special events such as our wedding. I feared that I would never be able to get any of this back, and at that moment, the loss felt overwhelming.
Yet, I knew my husband was right. It was only an Instagram account. Why was I getting so frustrated and upset?
After spending a whole day without access to Instagram, I discovered the answer. My account meant so much to me because it had become my public identity. It was a collection of photos I had curated that I believed represented myself, my life, and my family. Not that this identity was false, but it was something that took much work to keep up. In carefully selecting, editing, and making every effort to make my feed look effortless, I had allowed the process to become part of who I was.
The fact that I was so upset about not being able to access my account also showed me how much time I had been spending on it, to a point where I was practically obsessed with it.
This entire episode revealed how easily I had been distracted from my walk with God. It frightened me that something seemingly harmless could consume so much of my time, emotions, and energy. I had fretted over an identity that was superficial and temporal, instead of rejoicing over how my sinful self was made righteous through Jesus’ death on the cross.
The day after, Instagram restored my account. All the strange photos were removed, and I got access to my feed again. While I still do not know how my account had been hacked into, the episode served as a glaring reminder of how my attitude towards Instagram had to change. What I had once subconsciously regarded as my public identity, will now simply be a place to share my life and appreciate what others put up.
It’s wonderful to have my account restored, but what’s greater is the restoration to God that I have in Christ.