The Instagramed Soul
Look, I have no issue telling you that I have neither an Instagram-worthy body nor a Snap-Chattable face. I'm fat and ugly. But, despite those marks against me, I fear possessing something even worse: The Instagrammed soul.
You Look So Different IRL
Instagram - every social network, really - has adopted measures to obscure reality. Filters overlay what is really supposed to be represented. Photoshopping no longer requires mastery of complex software. All it takes is a couple of taps and we have access to the illusion that we can control how others perceive us (It seems prudent to mention in our latest Empty Conversation that Sean and I discuss that cosmetic makeup is a lie. This, of course, includes cosmetic surgery as well). Captivating crops and flattering filters may just be the digital equivalent.
Will there come a time when you won't even be able to recognize a person because they don't match the images they have shared with the masses? The quickly approaching wave of Virtual Reality devices and content cause me to pause and ask a question: Why do I need a virtual reality when I have yet to figure out the real reality? It seems to add another unnecessary layer of complexity that I don't think that I am ready to face. Will we ever be allowed to simply be human ever again? Will I ever be able to recognize my friends when they are sans electronic device?
A lesson from the masters of horror
I guess sexy demonic vampire aliens species have a place on this blog, too. The master's of horror rely on a simple tactic to tell a suspenseful story: the hidden identity. Many an innocent, member of society has wooed a hero or heroine with good looks and the promise of a sexual encounter. A moment of revelation inevitably occurs when the face of the seductress morphs into a twisted demonic scowl. The once concealed truth is revealed and it is ugly.
I think this tactic is oft employed because it rings as a true common experience. Maybe you haven't been seduced by an alien species, but you probably have initially thought well of someone only to have that image shattered. The more powerful the initial emotion, the more haunting the gut-wrenching the reveal becomes. The pain exists because a lie has been told. The movies hint at the problem with the Instagrammed soul, but they don't capture it completely. Most people with Instagrammed souls don't have destructive intentions. It is much more subtle than destroying the human race.
What is an Instagrammed Soul?
Like it's pixelated and portrayed counterpart, an Instagrammed soul is one that has been self-manipulated with filters that distort its true identity. Filters, in regards to the soul, are the lies that we tell to ourselves about ourselves to conceal the truth about ourselves to others. If you read my last post in this series that line should jump out at you. Pride is one of the filters we use to conceal the reality of our souls. False humility, overt sexuality, and fake friendliness are others. The lie starts out as a way to deal with the harshness of reality and the search for success and acceptance, but it ends up twisting our own self-image. Have you ever heard of an actor that delved so deep in a role his real identity got lost in the character? The Instagrammed soul gets ensnared precisely the same way.
The Filters of my soul.
As an adopted kid I have live suspended between two realities. One reality completed one couple's pursuit of happiness. The other, a void of wondering why I was never wanted by the other. You know the drill by now, the negative emotion roots itself deep in the soul and its fruits are a life of constant self-doubt. To this day, I never feel adequate and I never let myself feel completely accepted. But I yearned for these things. So I turned for filters.
I had the fake selflessness filter. I always lent a helping hand. Not because I cared, but because I wanted to be loved. I had the life of the party filter. I was loud, arrogant, and fun loving. All this to mask my major insecurities. I wanted people to like the version of me that I could control while never letting anyone get to know the real me. The filters allowed me a modicum of control, or so I thought.
Why? My biological parents didn't want the real me, why would anyone else? I always feared the next dose of rejection would be fatal. Many times it was. My first crush rejected my inquiry. I shut those emotions down quick. I skipped trying out for sports teams because I was afraid of being cut. I never took risks. I never accomplished what I wanted to because I was afraid of failing and being tossed away forever to remain unwanted.
The Original Snapshot
You may not believe me, but there is an indescribable beauty in a filter-free picture. Perhaps the beauty is the innocence of it all. It may seem boring and it probably won't trend on Twitter, but you can swim in the beauty of what is real. Increasingly, the filters I applied to my life are becoming very ugly.
If you have ever wondered what attracted me to the Gospel of Jesus you could make a guess that it was the idea of a perfect love and acceptance. It would be a good guess, but it would be wrong. It was the chance to be rescued from the filters. I purposefully lived in denial of the lies. I may not have understood the depths, but I was fully aware of their presence. The magnetic draw of Jesus was a life without filters, a life without an Instagrammed soul. I guess I just want to be able to see the original snapshot of who I was supposed to be all along. Maybe there is a depth and beauty to the realness of me. Let's find out together.
It's hard to admit you have filters, but I would like you to try. You don't have to tell me, but at least admit it to yourself. There is something truly beautiful underneath your instagrammed soul.