By: Blaise Compton
We have all experienced that dreaded moment when a parent or distant relative adds us as a friend on Facebook. Suddenly you can't crack the same jokes with your friends or post a ranting status about your ex without grandma commenting that she doesn't get it and to please explain. The ever-evolving climate of what's “cool” on social media prompts young people to move on to the next platform and escape the older generations’ lack of experience online. Now with these older generations creeping into the Instagram world, some millennials have created a second Instagram, dubbed Finsta, for “fake Instagram,” to share the not-so-perfect aspects of their lives.
The key to these profiles is that they remain private and allow the user to pick who can see the content, usually their closest friends. This allows them to post about drunken escapades, questionable dating choices or the ugliest of selfies - nothing is off limits in the world of Finsta.
“I’d definitely say there is a barrier between what I would post one place versus another even though all my accounts, besides my Finsta, are public just because I know who is following me where,” says 20-year-old Brennan Major about the different content he posts to his social media profiles. He adds that he keeps aware of which profiles are followed by his father, mother and friends.
“I like to just be vulnerable, gross, honest and funny because sometimes we need that.”
There is no question that the digital age puts pressure on young people to present the best version of themselves online, whether it be from the social media sleuthing of potential employers, or from Instagram “models” with seemingly perfect bodies who make a living posting about FitTea. These are just a few of the reasons that prompt people to get Finstas.
“I was beginning to have job opportunities and the first thing they would ask me for was my Instagram,” said Rosanna Romero, a 22-year-old artist. “They would stalk my profile and it made me uncomfortable to know that strangers wanted to see my work, but also my personal life.”
Being aware of who could see her posts and wanting an outlet to post like her true self, Romero decided to create a Finsta. “I wanted to be able to differentiate my work and my personal life because unfortunately social media is a reflection of who we are and how people judge you.”
“I don't post photos of myself, my friends or where I am,” she adds. Now that Romero has her Finsta, her Instagram has essentially become her portfolio for work. “I am a very private person and I would like to stay that way.”
Because Romero’s Finsta followers solely consists of the people she is closest with, she has a freedom to uncensor herself. “I do not feel a pressure to put on a show or afraid someone is going to judge me or start a controversial argument,” Romero says. “I usually post pictures that I don’t think twice about on my Finsta...I like to just be vulnerable, gross, honest and funny because sometimes we need that. I enjoy being real with people, especially the people closest to me, and I am glad that people who are close to me can feel more involved in my life no matter where we are in the world.”
Courtney Perkins, a 22-year-old writer, resorted to getting a Finsta as a way to express her frustrations with life. “During my senior year in college, everyone was telling me that my online persona is really important when looking for jobs because no one wants someone who talks about their sex life online,” explains Perkins.
“I had so many things I was angry and upset about that I felt like I just couldn't be myself online anymore,” Perkins says.. She adds that she mainly rants about her ex-boyfriend and her current love life.
"I feel like if you post all those things on social media you can get a lot of unwarranted criticisms,” says Olivia Bennett, a 22-year-old publicist. “It's about knowing that the people who I let follow my Finsta know the context of my post so they’re not worried or making judgements about me.”
The platform can provide a way to open a dialogue amongst friends where they can reach out to posts they find concerning or funny, which is one of Bennett’s favorite aspects of Finsta.
“I had so many things I was angry and upset about that I felt like I just couldn't be myself online anymore,”
“A lot of my posts are kind of emotional, just like venting about things that I could text my friends about anyway but I know I could just post it to my Finsta and get feedback from people who know about my life the most,” says Bennett. “It’s like a group message but on Instagram.”
For Major, he got his Finsta during a tough time when he felt he wasn't being honest about himself with the people closest to him. He liked the way Instagram worked, but wanted something more private and for a smaller audience. By being able to post about his thoughts, bad or good, and post funny things to share with his closest friends, Major was able to express himself the way he wanted.
“It allowed me to have a space to kind of just do me, unapologetically,” Major says.
Since Major made his Finsta solely for himself, he takes screening his followers very seriously, which has led to some hard feelings amongst his not-so-close friends.
“I know a lot of people who may see my Finsta handle will pop up and it becomes a weird thing where it’s like, yeah we’re really good friends, but maybe there's stuff in here that is for like my closest friends,” Major says. “I’ve tried to stay true to its a thing just for me. If it’s going to function in the capacity that I wanted to from the beginning, then I can’t bend the rules just to be nice and save face.”
Even though it may seem like a safe platform for sharing things with a close friend group, things don't always run smoothly in the world of Finsta. Perkins discussed a time when a friend showed her an acquaintances’ Finsta post that had negative things to say about her.
“I had never been publicly slandered before,” Perkins says, comparing the situation to how she posts on her own Finsta. “It doesn't matter who follows you on your private accounts, that stuff is always public in some regard.”
“We need more privacy, we need empathy and we need honesty.”
Perkins since then has monitored her posts and followers to make sure her private account stays private. “Even if you trust all of your followers, your friends are always going to have things they are sensitive about that they might want to discuss it with other people.”
Having these private profiles could also raise concerns for parents of younger kids, Major explains, saying that he understood how a parent would be concerned knowing their child wanted a secret profile away from them.
But for Romero, she believes this rising social media outlet could be beneficial for younger generations. “I hate that we feel like we have to put a show on for the rest of the world and pretend we live in this fantasy world,” she says. “We need more privacy, we need empathy and we need honesty.”