Yesterday I encountered a situation so foreign to me, that I actually had to pinch myself to make sure it actually happened. I was going about my day when I received an email from a stranger telling me that she believed one of my photos from my blog had been “stolen” by a person on Instagram who was claiming it as their own. She sent me a screen shot of the Instagram post and my blog with the same photo.
Being rather leery of emails from strangers, I was hesitant to believe her. After some digging, however, I found that it was actually true. Admittedly I was angry and also found myself speculating about the identity of the Instagram account owner. The account showed a young woman from the UK who claimed to be ill with a number of different ailments. My mind immediately wondered if this was true or if it was perhaps a big man in a thong in Bermuda. I am just being honest. It was not a kind thought and I am not proud of myself for thinking it, but who knows what is real on social media these days.
I do not post pictures of Zack’s ileostomy. It is private and a line I choose not to cross. There may come a day when he and I decide together to do this, but I cannot currently think of any reason to do so. This particular picture showed Zack’s ileostomy bag full of blood. It is an old picture taken over three years ago. It is faceless, shows no skin and could be anybody. Still, to see his picture being claimed by a stranger to show others how ill she was really upset me.
I contacted Instagram and they removed the photo. My sister and Jake contacted the account owner and expressed their “unhappiness” with the situation. Let me just tell you, Zack has a great many people looking out for him! However, Jim and I decided not to contact her right away, but rather sit with our thoughts for a bit and pray for her.
As I have done that, I have felt my heart soften for this person. If indeed she is the young woman shown in her profile picture, she is very young. Clearly, my photo is not the only photo she has used in this way. Her cry for attention is loud. What causes a person to steal a picture of a sick child, put it up and Instagram and claim it is a picture of their current situation? Is she lonely? Suffering from a mental illness? I recently read about an illness called factitious disorder where people do this very thing.
While I am not happy that Zack’s picture was used in this manner, I find myself worried about this stranger. I hope that she is able to find the help that she needs to get better and to understand her worth. I hope that she is surrounded by people who love her and encourage her. I hope that she will come to know how much God loves her. I think I will be praying for this young woman for a long time.