Beautiful brunches + highly edited birthday posts + rooftop bar photos + throwback baby pics + travel landscape views = a perfect Instagram …
As much as our Instagram is supposed to reflect and share our lives with others, for many people it ends up being a curated, edited, and unrealistic screenshot of their lives. Users don’t photograph the nights spent in the library, the awkward moments, or bad hair days. Don’t get me wrong — one of the reasons that I love Instagram is because of the high quality and expectation of images, and I personally am protective over what I post. But, when it comes down to it, our Instagram feeds are not our reality.
To solve this reality gap, a growing trend among high schoolers / college students is the idea of a “finsta” or fake Instagram account. The finsta is a place for more posts, awkward photos, everyday fails, hangovers, screenshots of texts, ugly snapchats and everything in between – sometimes ugly, but also the reality of everyday life. And it’s usually private. For this age group, this might be the first, lasting social media that reflects this kind of inside look into their daily lives.
These are commonly used by female teens, with funny/ironic usernames, and are private with low double digit following of close friends.
“Principles that guide Instagram are cheerfully ignored on fake accounts: If posting more than once a day to a main account is considered something of a faux pas, it’s perfectly acceptable, on a finstagram account, to unleash a stream of mundane images, screen shots of text conversations and ugly selfies” 
Reflections of this age group
The finsta is mainly used by people who have grown up surrounded by social media – with 13 to 17 being the main age groups. Therefore, these teenagers have created a platform within a platform where they are no longer being judged, having to edit themselves, and can share real updates with their friends. The finsta is a product of the negative aspects of social media that we have so much discussed – trolling, bullying, judging, and how this affects the teens in this growing age group. I think an outlet like this is a positive thing where teens can feel safe and trusting with their followers, which is not the case on many platforms.
A psychologist Sandy Rea says it is a good thing for these young adults to be able to post without needing so much affirmation from their followers. She also says that it’s ok to have a public self and a private self for your closest friends and family, and a good self identity comes when these are in sync and can both exist .
However, a bit of danger comes from the privacy of these accounts – where they can mock their peers and say whatever they want, since it’s only shared with friends. Upon researching the finsta, many articles were titled “the dangers of finstagram” or “does your child have a finsta and what to do about it” but they generally were focused on the fact that parents couldn’t monitor the accounts, and the potential bullying of peers. However, teens interviewed by the New York Times and Huffington post that had finstas consistently talked of photos of themselves.
“My finsta is full of unfiltered, word-vomit posts.”
Is it hypocritical?
While this might be a good outlet for teens to express their true selves, it may also be seen as a little hypocritical for them, as they want a “real” portrayal on Instagram, but are not willing to break the barrier of judgement on their real account. It also might just be a way to hide their lives from their parents, but I think it is more than that. I’m curious to hear what you all think of this question.
I am also curious why Snapchat doesn’t fulfill the need for a finsta, which for me and my friends it does. With the new group feature, I can send anything and everything of my real, ugly, daily life I need with the people I want to show it to. But in the finsta articles I have read, it is not that this is replacing the use of Snapchat – it’s just different.
So I asked one of my friends who does have a finsta why she finds it different from Snapchat. She said “well, first of all Instagram is just my favorite social media app to use. But also, I think it’s funny to go back and look through my finstas to remember the funny times between my friends and I.” So in this case, the disappearance of Snapchats are working against what these finsta users want, and is just generally a different social media experience.
Overall, I’m curious if anyone of you have a finsta and want to share your thoughts on why/how you use it, but also if you think this is a positive or a negative thing for this age group.