Fake Instagrams, Real You


This will be perfect for my finsta!” I first heard the word “finsta” when a freshman at my school asked me to take a video of her dancing in her PJs. I remember asking what a finsta was and then wondering how the freshmen, only four years younger, could already be more hip than I was. But after this, I started hearing more and more about finstas and realized that a lot of the kids in my grade had them too.

So, what is a finsta? A finsta is a fake Instagram, or insta. Finstas are secondary accounts, always set to private. Unlike your regular, real Instagram account with many followers, finstas are shared with only a few close friends. After first hearing about these fake Instagrams, I immediately assumed that finsta users would be sharing photos of them partying and drinking. And while you do come across some photos like this, most photos are unedited selfies or rants about social justice, parents, school, you name it. I soon began to realize that finstas are actually a great way to express yourself authentically and that these fake accounts might actually be the real deal. So I asked a few teen finsta users for their thoughts.

What makes a finsta different from a real or regular Instagram account?

Hannah: Finstas are more narrative and less focused on projecting an image to the outside world than a regular Instagram is.

Penny: It’s less about sharing photos and more about sharing thoughts.  Someone once pointed out to me that a finsta seems much more real than a regular Instagram, because on finsta you don't filter your thoughts and can post whatever you want, as opposed to maintaining an image and aesthetic like you might do on a main account.

What do you use your finsta for? 

Clarke: I personally use my finsta for my own comic and emotional relief. I talk about my problems in a comedic way so that people know what I’m going through and can laugh with me too. It’s kind of like my very public diary.

Maria: Honestly, [my finsta] is very stress relieving because, instead of containing your embarrassment/anger, you can share it with other people who will laugh with you or feel your frustration.

Penny: Finsta is more for me and for my friends. Last night, I found my great grandmother's engraved hand mirror, and while I wanted to share it, I felt it didn't really work on my main Instagram. So I posted a photo of it on my finsta, describing what it was in the caption along with a little summary of my day. It's like sharing a journal with your friends.

Sage: Personally, I use my finsta to discuss certain issues like feminism and misogyny and how they affect me when I’m in my regular school environment, or the Black Lives Matter movement, or the female body. I use my finsta to propel the voice that’s often silenced in certain conversations.

I only recently heard about finstas. How popular do you think they are?

Clarke: Popularity of finstas differs from school to school, I think. I heard about them last summer from my friend who lives in Pennsylvania and she was so surprised that I was unaware of finstas. They are definitely popular in Baltimore right now.

Hannah: I think finstas are pretty popular! A lot of people do have them or follow at least one or two.

It seems like a lot of people who go to independent schools have a finsta. Any thoughts as to why they’re so popular with this particular crowd?

Candace: I just think that because there is such a distinction between what we [independent school kids] want people to think about us and how we actually are. There’s like this stereotype of the perfect private school kid. It’s just nice to have an escape from all of that.

Clarke: I think it may have to do with how connected everyone is here. There are like two degrees of separation between every kid in the independent school scene. Because we live in Smalltimore, we have a lot of the same experiences. For example, I follow a girl’s finsta and I don’t know her personally, but I can relate to a lot of what she posts because, although she goes to a different private school, I know the people she knows and we end up at the same events because of our environment.

What makes finstas attractive to young people?

Hannah: Young people like finstas because it’s a nice alternative to the sometimes monotone world of social media - everyone is trying to impress their followers, get more likes, things like that. Finsta is more low key and it’s a lot easier to be yourself on it.

Clarke: I think that social networks have become a venue for superficiality. Young people and overall users of sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram spend a lot of time portraying what they feel as perfection to their followers and friends. Finstas are attractive because they give people a chance to come as they are. It’s uncensored and candid.

Penny: It’s a chance to have fun and a chance to share how you really feel. It’s a way to get your feelings out there without being worried about how things look or what people will think. It’s also just a great opportunity to shamelessly talk about yourself and the things you love - basically my favorite hobby.

With campaigns for all sized models and untouched magazine ads gaining popularity, it’s clear that today’s teens want real, authentic, and true people portrayed in the media. This is true for social media too - teenagers are getting tired of comparing the number of followers they have or judging their self worth by the amount of likes a post gets. Finstas allow an escape from this. According to the teens above, if you use one of these “fake Instagrams”, you’re not being fake at all - you’re being the real you.

text: zipi diamond
visual: petra collins via sfaq
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1 comment

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