What’s the Deal with “Finstas”?

In an age of complete social media concentration, one can feel as though they always need to present the most ideal, happy, and glamorous form of themselves online. It can be emotionally taxing to keep up this rouse of contentment and desirability. The constant inauthenticity is especially potent on Instagram, where cultivating an aesthetic personality is that much more important. This discontent is leading many young people to create alternate spaces on the app, called “finstas”. These are spaces in which they say they can be their more pure selves, but is that even possible while still on social media?

 

 

Finsta is a combination of “fake” and “instagram”, sometimes referred to as “spam accounts”. According to The New York Times in the article titled “On Fake Instagram, a Chance to Be Real,”  these types of secondary accounts are most popular among high school to college aged users. The article also states that not only does this age group generally use social media at the highest rate, but they feel the most pressure from the influences of Instagram trends and competition for likes.

 

 

On finstagram, there is seen to be less of a need to curate your photos or feed. Since finstas are private accounts, the user can choose who to let into their online space and who they would rather not have access to their information. This makes the finsta’s feed seem like a small community of friends, without connection to the wider online space. It becomes a place to rant, post party photos unsuitable for family or employers, and anything else not up to the standards of a main account. There is also more of a culture of commenting and discourse on finsta posts due to their personal nature.

 

When asked why she uses a finsta account, Virginia Commonwealth University sophomore Britton Elmer stated, “I like being able to talk about more personal things on social media to people I think would understand.” She followed by saying, her finsta is “probably a more accurate representation of myself, because my normal Instagram should be curated and appropriate, basically I can only post to my normal Insta if it’s good enough for my grandma to read, but a finsta makes it so I can say whatever I want and really mean.”

 

George Mason University freshman Sarah Mae Dizon responded, “I made my finsta in high school, and when it first started I thought it was a fun way to share tiny, stupid things that happened to a little community of people I trust. As time went on, I began using it as a way to vent all my personal issues that I, inexplicably, didn’t have the courage to bring up to the very friends that followed my finsta. Now, I try to find healthier ways to work out my personal problems, but it’s a great way to really understand what’s going on with my friends.”

 

While the finsta community can feel very fulfilling for users, it’s still a broadcasted form of yourself. Online, it’s impossible to escape the fact that you’re still posting things for others’ recognition. The difference with finsta is that you’re no longer posting photos for others to envy or aspire to, instead you are posting for others to relate or empathize with you. There’s more of an emotional element, but at the end of the day, it’s still an economy of likes and comments and that need for gratification doesn’t go away.

Finsta accounts exist because the aesthetically and emotionally demanding social media landscape. We are so dependant on that landscape that rather than distance ourselves from social media to achieve mental clarity, we use the existing framework to create safer spaces within the sites themselves. The state of internet culture requires that almost all communication, both “authentic” and otherwise, happens on social media.   

This doesn’t mean finsta accounts or bad or necessarily unhealthy. Finstas can be a great way to connect with friends, unload grievances, and laugh at goofy selfies. Online communities are still important to the people in them, even if they don’t exist in the real world. Yet, at the end of the day, Instagram connections will never been a perfect substitute for real-world friendships. Maybe finstagram is the start of an important shift of social media towards more authentic posts, or maybe it’s just a symptom of an issue that’s only getting worse.

Sources: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/fashion/instagram-finstagram-fake-account.html