Your Instagram can define who you are. When you post a photo on Instagram, you risk getting judged by the people who view your photos. Your Instagram helps create your online identity, which is why most people like to portray themselves as best as they can and which is why it can be experienced as very stressful by many teenagers and young adults.
There is an upcoming trend which drastically changes the way Instagram is used: the creation of Instagram accounts that are referred to as ‘finstagram’ or ‘finsta’ (fake Instagram). They refer to their main account as ‘rinstagram’ or ‘rinsta’ (real Instagram). On Urban Dictionary, ‘finstagram’ is defined as follows: ‘’Finstagram, finsta for short, is a mixture of Fake & Instagram. People, usually girls, get a second Instagram account along with their real instagrams, rinstagrams, to post any pictures of videos they desire. The photos or videos posted are usually funny or embarrassing. Only your closest friends follow this account’’ (Urban Dictionary, 2013).
It is interesting that the Instagram account on which you post pictures of your ‘real’ self is referred to as ‘Fake Instagram’.
This trend is hiding beneath the surface, because these accounts are usually set to private and have usernames that make sure the account cannot be tracked down to the real Instagram page, or be found by unwanted people. These pages are used to share pictures that are unfiltered, not edited and there is no clever caption (Herber, 2015). They are not meant for the whole world to see; most people choose to keep these accounts private and only let close friends view them.
It is interesting that the Instagram account on which you post pictures of your ‘real’ self is referred to as ‘Fake Instagram’. Meanwhile, the Instagram account where you are putting on a show is referred to as your ‘Real Instagram’. In this essay, I am going to discuss why people are creating Finstagrams and I will argue why this is not necessarily a more true representation of yourself, which is a basic assumption about Finstagrams.
Why are people creating Finstagrams?
People of all generations have struggled with how they project their identities to others in the world. However, teenagers nowadays have to deal with the feedback mechanism all hours of every day, and therefore they arguably have it worse (Safronova, 2015). According to Leora Trub, an assistant professor in psychology and a clinical psychologist who works with adolescents and young adults, ‘’Before, while you were sleeping, you were sleeping. Nobody was judging you, and you weren’t waking up to an entire other self that existed in this online space that’s being commented on’’ (Lup, Trub & Rosenthal, 2015). Therefore, we could argue that one of the reasons why people create a Finstagram is because they are scared of people judging their real Instagram. People (subconsciously) judge everything they see, so naturally, most people like to present the best version of themselves and only post the highlights of their lives. However, people might still feel the need to share more personal things with some of their followers, while not being judged by strangers and people they do not know well. A Finstagram can be the solution for this.
Another piece of research shows there was a link between the number of strangers followed on Instagram and the greater chance of having depressive symptoms (Lup, Trub & Rosenthal, 2015). The strangers people follow on Instagram are usually not just ‘ordinary’ people, but ‘professional’ Instagrammers, also called influencers. These people carefully curate their feed to create the illusion of a perfect life. This can explain the depressive symptoms their followers might experience, because people usually compare themselves to others, which can leave them feeling as though their life is awful and unsatisfactory. A Finstagram is a way to break with the idea that everything has to be perfect and make social media more enjoyable again.
Having a perfect feed has become 'the norm'. It is socially unacceptable to post ugly photos of yourself. Everyone who has an Instagram account is essentially branding themselves; it does not matter whether you are selling products or not. First and foremost, you are selling yourself, to your friends, school, employers and potential followers (Webster, n.d). This can make people take more time to edit their pictures, so that they fit their current feed. It can become exhausting to keep up with these standards. A lot of people also do not want to ruin the hard work they put in creating this perfect feed by posting pictures that do not fit the theme of their Instagram and the online persona they are trying to create. This is another reason why people create Finstagrams, to present truer versions of themselves (Safronova, 2015).
The risk of Finstagram
Fnstagram pages can serve as a relief for many teenagers and young adults. Because only a smaller selected group has access to this page, they feel like they can post anything, like rants about their life, ugly selfies and personal moments. However, at the same time, trust can easily be broken. Making your Instagram account private does not ensure that people besides the selected group of followers can see it. People who have access to your Finstagram can easily show it to others in the offline world. People are also able to screenshot pictures from your Instagram and share them with others. These people are called ‘Finsta-snitches’. It may be naive to expect that somethingyou post on a social media platform stays completely safe, especially for posts that are seen as socially ‘unacceptable’ (Lau, 2017). Therefore, it is important that the creators of Finstagrams do not rely too much on trusting that their account is private.
This could make you wonder why people would create Finstagrams, if there are so many risks involved with having one. Why do they feel the need to show their ‘real self’ to a selected group of friends, even though these friends probably already know who you are in real life? It is important to question what a Rinstagram is lacking, which is what causes people to create a Finstagram. As mentioned above, your real Instagram is your brand, so by creating a Finstagram you are protecting your brand. A Finstagram is also a chance to update your close friends about what is really going on in your life.
Finstagram instead of Snapchat
The content that is posted on Finstagram pages is similar to what is posted on Snapchat. That is why Fthe two are often compared to one another. So why is there still a need to create these Finstagram pages? A lot of Snapchat users have over a hundred friends on Snapchat and put a significant amount of time and effort in creating posts for their Snapchat Story. These can be seen by all of their followers and remain visible for 24 hours. Fake Instagram posts are more similar to the Snapchats users send to individual people, that disappear in 10 seconds or less after they have been opened. However, people still prefer Instagram because of two main benefits: Instagram allows you to use more words, and it is permanent, which gives you the opportunity to look back at funny things you created (Safronova, 2015).
Multiple online personas
It is not just celebrities that post envy-worthy pictures; there are many Instagram influencers who make sure their Instagram feed looks perfect. This creates a world where everything is beautiful. When people scroll through their Instagram feed, many people start to wonder why their lives seem perfect while their own life is not. They start to compare their own lives to artificial perfection on Instagram (Usagi, 2017). This is why some influencers have decided that they want to show a side of them that looks more authentic, or to show the ‘truth’ behind a photo. This has led to many influencers starting a Finstagram account. However, their account is not private, where those of regular people usually are.
But what is really the goal when influencers create this second account? Are humor and clumsiness the remedy against an endless stream of the typical perfect pictures you see on Instagram? Finstas do bring some reality back to Instagram, which the medium certainly lacks. However, there are also comprehensive manuals on the Internet that give tips and advice on how to create a good Finstagram account. So is it really that spontaneous, or is a (public) Finstagram account just another online performance (Kersten, 2017)? A Finstagram account is full of ‘ugly’ and unflattering pictures of yourself, but making one can still be beneficial to influencers. These people understand how Instagram works and would not make this account if it would not be profitable to them in any way or form. It seems that this self-mockery also helps them be perceived as cool, because they come across as careless and funny.
Finstagrams show that Instagram has become a business. Influencers want to share pictures of themselves that are not perfect, otherwise they would not post them on the Internet. However, they do not post these photos on their real Instagram, because they can lose followers because of them and companies might not want to work with them anymore.
What does the rise of finstagram tell us?
The rise of Finstagram shows that teenagers and young adults want to express themselves in other ways than showing the best and carefully curated version of themselves. This trend shows that people want a more intimate space to share things with only close friends and that they will create it themselves, if it is not readily provided for them. However, it is questionable if this is just a way of expressing their feelings and to rant about things. Especially since influencers have picked up on this trend and started their own Finstagram accounts, which are public. While this online persona seems more authentic than their real Instagrams, it is just another way to create an online persona. So perhaps it should be the other way around, and people should call their real instagram ‘Finstagram’ and their fake instagram ‘Rinstagram’.
Herber, E. (2015). Finstagram: The Instagram Revolution. Medium.com. Retrieved 13 April 2018, from https://medium.com/bits-pixels/finstagram-the-instagram-revolution-73799...
Kersten, L. (2017). Wat de opkomst van finsta’s ons vertelt over ons online leven. I-d.vice.com. Retrieved 14 April 2018, from https://i-d.vice.com/nl/article/xwg97n/wat-de-opkomst-van-finstas-ons-ve...
Lau, R. (2017). Finstagrams: Making Instagram Private Again. RICE. Retrieved 14 April 2018, from http://ricemedia.co/culture-life-finstagrams-making-instagram-private-ag...
Lup, K., Trub, L., & Rosenthal, L. (2015). Instagram #Instasad?: Exploring Associations Among Instagram Use, Depressive Symptoms, Negative Social Comparison, and Strangers Followed. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, And Social Networking, 18(5), 247-252. http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2014.0560
Safronova, V. (2015). On Fake Instagram, a Chance to Be Real. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 13 April 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/fashion/instagram-finstagram-fake-acc...
Urban Dictionary. (2013). Finstagram. Retrieved 13 April 2018, from https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Finstagram
Usagi, S. (2017). Why Everyone on Instagram Always Looks Better than You in Everything. Medium. Retrieved 13 April 2018, from https://medium.com/@selphieusagi/why-everyone-on-instagram-always-looks-...
Webster, E. Why Having a Finsta Might Be a Really Bad Idea. Retrieved from https://www.milkmakeup.com/fake-instagrams-bad-idea.html