My Problem With Finstas

For those that know me personally and stumble upon this, welcome to another one of my rants about my favorite topic: social media. 


Now before I get eye rolls and sighs in response to my opening line, hear me out. 


In high school, I was notoriously known for not having social media. Specifically, an Instagram. 


It was a personal choice, really. A choice not many people understood because when I would get asked for my “@” and respond with “oh, I don’t have an Insta” the look of confusion, and at times, genuine concern, would creep its way to their face. They would awkwardly laugh which I always took as a sign of their disapproval. 


The thing is, though, I never saw the need for one. I didn’t want to be glued to my phone like everyone else. I could be sitting in a crowded room full of all my friends and despite their physical bodies being in close proximity, their minds wandered in far off dimensions that I could only reach if I took their phone from their hands and threw it out the window. 


Trust me, I’ve thought about doing that exact thing many, many times, but I don’t have $700 to buy my friends a new phone.


I found myself looking over their shoulders just to get a peek of what could possibly be more important on their screen than the people in front of them. What I found was always the same: Instagram.


I decided then that Instagram wasn’t worth my time if it takes time away from being present. A couple years later, I eventually caved for purposes related to the magazine you’re currently reading this article on. I wanted a platform to connect with my fellow Her Campus gals and share whatever words I decide to put on this page.


My time on the app, though still sparse, has taught me a few things. Some good, some bad. One thing in particular that I continuously find myself questioning is the creation of “finstas”—otherwise known as a fake Instagram. For those unfamiliar, a finsta is typically a private Instagram account created by someone who already has an Instagram but wants the freedom to post whatever they want with only the eyes of their closest friends to see.


In theory, a finsta is cool. I had one myself back when Instagram first came out. But the longer I thought about it, the more I noticed the underlying problems. 


Let me backtrack. 


When social media was first created, it was intended to connect people and allow others to share what they want. We create individual profiles so that we all have a place to post our pictures, stories, and anything we feel is worth showing the world. The idea behind social media platforms has good intentions.


Nowadays, the intentions have been misguided. Social media, especially Instagram, has become a highlight reel; a place where people only post the best parts of their life. Not to say there’s anything wrong with sharing the good parts, but it all became a matter of who’s dating who, who’s accomplishing what, and who’s living their life better than the rest. We may not notice it, but our subconscious does. Constantly seeing everyone else live “perfect” lives takes a toll on our mentality. It makes us wonder what the hell we’re doing with ours. When in reality, it’s all just a front that we’re all guilty of putting it up.


That is, of course, until you stumble upon someone’s finsta. The one place users feel able to truly be themselves without fear of judgement or the desire to be seen as perfect. 


A handful of my closest friends have finstas. Though all of them are quite different when looked at as a holistic person, the posts on their finstas are eerily similar. Parties, boy drama, girl drama, mental breakdowns, existential crisis, and more parties. All of which are completely normal for people our age to go through, and yet, we feel the need to hide it from the public.


Why is that?


Najma (aka my super cool best friend) and I spoke on record about this question and here’s what I gathered:


  1. Judgement. It’s all around her. She comes from a family that expects only the best from her and Najma often feels suffocated by those standards. Her main Instagram is public and she posts the good parts of her life like everyone else. That way, if any of her family members or family friends happen to see her account, she comes off as a “good child”. With her finsta, she doesn’t feel any of the pressures that she does with her main account.

  2. A social diary. To Najma, her finsta is a place where she can be her authentic self with her closest friends. A place where she can keep everyone updated on her personal life, without feeling restricted to get too personal. 

  3. Less pressure. As I mentioned above, Instagram has become a highlight reel. With that comes the pressures of getting a certain number of likes and comments on every post. With a finsta, Najma and others alike don’t have to worry about such a superficial concept. She can post whatever she wants, whenever she wants, and the anxiety she may feel when posting on her main account doesn’t transfer over to her finsta.


I asked a few more of my friends with finsta’s for their reasonings, and their answers pretty much matched up with Najma’s to a T. Everyone feels some type of liberation from the standards they “have to” uphold on Instagram.


Stephany (aka my other super cool best friend) had this to say about hers:


“Well if you look at my account, it’s a good mix of memes, me being a mess or sad and me being a lil hoe.” 


In other words, her finsta is the opposite of her highlight reel. Stephany personally loves her finsta because she can post anything without a second thought, and since it’s only her close friends following her, Stephany knows she won’t be judged for them. She also knows that no one will expose her and her infamous shenanigans to other people.


Now I know you’re probably asking why I have a problem with finstas if they benefit my friends. You see, my so-called beef with finstas aren’t necessarily with the account themselves, but more so for their purpose.  

An Instagram account is created to share your life with your friends and family. Since we’re all human, our lives consist of the good and the bad. It’s only logical to showcase both on a platform about your life.  So why is that not the case? When did we put all of these restrictions on our “real” accounts? The restrictions have grown so much that it’s led us to make “fake” ones. As Stephany put it, “I have a fake Insta which I think is funny cause I see it as the real Insta. That’s where everyone posts what their life is really like.'' 


I couldn’t have said it better myself. The irony of a finsta, or a fake Instagram, is that it’s not fake at all. It’s the real deal. It’s the only place on Instagram where most feel allowed to show who they really are and what they’re really going through.


So when did the purpose of an Insta become the sole purpose of a finsta? When did we decide that our main Instagram accounts will only be a collection of things worth bragging about? Shouldn’t our finsta’s technically be our mains? 


We put so much pressure on ourselves to portray a picture-perfect life that it’s led us to create private accounts separate from our “real” Instagrams. If you ask me, that defeats the purpose of it being “real”.


We shouldn’t have to hide behind private accounts meant for a select few in order to be who we truly are on social media. We give power to social media, so we have the ability to take that power back. Stop letting it control your decisions. Stop letting it make you feel bad about yourself. Stop letting it suppress the full version of you. 


Go ahead, post whatever you want on your main account. At the end of the day, it’s your Instagram, not anyone else's. Let go of the idea that the only place it’s acceptable to be you is your finsta. You owe it to yourself to show who you truly are on every platform, because always wearing a mask is exhausting. 


Take it off. You look better without it.