Pro / Con: The Finsta Phenomenon
April 10, 2017
If you don’t have one, you’re following one: the “fake Instagram,” better known as the “finsta.” Ironically, such profiles offer more “real” representations of girls than we’ve seen online in a while.
When I first noticed the trend, I was confused. What could you possibly need another account for? Is your life that interesting?
Upon reviewing some friends’ newly made finstas, I noticed a couple things: 1) The movement seemed almost exclusively led by girls. 2) The profiles just seemed like more personal versions of their “real” counterparts. And when I made the connection between these two observations, I began to see the true significance of the finsta phenomenon. The only place where girls are subjected to more social pressures and expectations than they are in real life is online.
Photos of the perfect girls everywhere you look -“#goals”, one might say. Flat tummies, tiny waists paired with inexplicably boundless curves, eyeliner so sharp you could cut yourself on it, big eyes, big lips – all effortless, all “off-guard.” Part of how we respond to these standards is through our carefully crafted online presence. The pictures that make it online are only one of many, vetted for the best lighting, angle and a plethora of other details so miniscule that anyone else would hardly know the difference. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to present yourself in the best light – if there’s one thing 21st century teens have learned by now, it’s that anything you post online never really goes away. But the constant barrage of quasi-models and idealized representations of female life takes a toll. It’s easy to forget that those images aren’t real life. We wonder why our own lives aren’t picture-perfect and we’ve been wondering since the beginnings of popular social media. Some might argue that the recent proliferation of finstas just serves as further evidence of teenaged girls’ obsession with social media.
But I think the finsta is the 21st century girl online’s declaration of imperfection. I see girls posting about being tired, sick, sad, lonely, and lost. Pictures taken for the sole purpose of sharing a moment, and a feeling even those of the most unglamorous variety.
And even more striking, I see girls connecting with girls over these feelings.
Supporting each other, diverting from the long-standing tradition of girls one-upping other girls. We’re finally letting our guards down, and I think it’s incredible—even if it’s just to a carefully monitored audience through a private Instagram account.
But this isn’t to say finstas are just virtual pity parties – far from it. In fact, some of the funniest pages I follow happen to be finstas. There are girls I’d been going to school with for years whose unexpectedly crude humor I’d never been lucky enough to see until the finsta movement. Finstas strip away the filters. And this means everything that makes a girl truly herself- her thoughts, her feelings, her sense of humor, no matter how socially unacceptable – are being shared and appreciated. There are battles ahead as we face an administration hostile to women’s rights. But maybe this is where we start – by realizing that the less photogenic parts of female life are not moments to experience alone and with shame; rather, they are how we connect.
Without a doubt, the Internet grows vaster every day. It seems every second we are clicking, tweeting, posting, commenting and replying. We can’t put our phones down.
The emergence of finsta culture or “Fake Instagrams” is a part of this growth. To be easily defined, a finsta is a social media platform which more and more teenagers are creating to expose their “real selves.”
Optimistically, these accounts are permeated with funny pictures, inside jokes and candid moments of daily life. Yet, if you take a closer look, finstas can contain a little bit of darkness. Not only do people take the opportunity to rant and complain about their so called “problems,” but these accounts can swiftly shapeshift into hidden forms of hate speech. What some may call teen angst, others may call cyberbullying.
I cannot speak for all finstas, yet if this is the account that represents “the real you,” what message does that send? The phrase finsta itself is derived from the word fake. So, if this is a phony account, but it is exposing the real you, what does that say about you as a person? Thus, is the content on your main account an accurate representation of your and your life? I can’t help but acknowledge the irony of these fake accounts that expose the real you.
In an article by Valeriya Safronova, in the New York Times called “On Fake Instagram, a Chance to Be Real,” Trinity College student Amy Wesson talks about her finsta: “You post things you wouldn’t want people other than your friends to see, like unattractive pictures, random stories about your day and drunk pictures from parties.”
Yet, if you wouldn’t want anybody but friends to see this photo or this caption, should you be posting it at all?
Over the past decade, there has been endless talk about the diminishing amount of privacy in one’s life due to the development of technology and the obliviousness of its users. Now more than ever, our lives are public. You may think you know how Instagram or Snapchat works and who is on the other side of that screen, but there is no real certainty to that assumption.
Privacy implies confidentiality. Confidentiality is to be respected, kept from the public eye.
So do you want to be public or private? Are you going to be upfront with your followers, who should be your friends, or are you perpetuating a fake version of yourself?