In an age where 52% of teenagers in the United States are on Instagram, according to Pew Research Center, our accounts have become bastions of superficiality, PhotoShopped under-eye circles and cloudless blue skies. Perhaps that’s why the “finsta” — fake instagram— trend is so alluring; it’s an opportunity to bare some awkward, authentic part of ourselves, to allow a chosen few to be privy to our aimless thoughts, ugly selfies, and bitter rants. Logging out of your “rinsta” — real Instagram — and onto your finsta is an opportunity to pour out your heart into a private diary, seen by only your closest friends.
Many of us have no qualms about sitting down and typing our entire day into the caption box as if we were writing into a journal. Whether it be the details of a harrowing panic attack or an admission of unrequited love, nothing is off-limits, even the things we can’t bring up to our closest friends. Our willingness to share ourselves through the glowing blue light of a phone screen speaks to an innate desire for connection- for the intimate community that human beings crave. Paradoxically, however, finsta users search for this connection in a hidden account, disguised with a funny name. In real life, we often avoid such difficult conversations and confessions.
It’s ironic that we call it a fake Instagram when it may just be our most genuine online footprint. The finsta is where users can be honest about how fantastic or miserable their days are, something the rinsta cannot accurately portray. This truer social media version of ourselves is only for the eyes of our “finsta family,” and sharing a post with someone outside the follower base can get you blocked. What happens on the finsta stays on the finsta, and is absolutely not to be brought up face-to-face.
Why the secrecy? Why do we feel so uncomfortable being messy and vulnerable in front of our peers? Yes, opening up offline can seem difficult or dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Finstas can spark important conversations about our school, our mental health, and our personal lives. One honest post triggers a flood of likes, and one 3:00 a.m. selfie garners immediate empathetic responses. But if we only feel comfortable sharing our uncensored thoughts and photos through a joke Instagram account, then our ability to be vulnerable and share our thoughts and feelings with others begins to diminish.
These accounts can be a medium to show others who we truly are and how we really feel, but they also expose the inauthenticity of our online selves. Ideally, the “real you” should be present in any form of social media that you decide to create, or at the very least, in life offline. In order to begin to be comfortable sharing ourselves with family and friends in real life, we must step out from behind the “punny” username and private setting of our finstas and attempt to be as honest in real life as we are online.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXL.