Scroll, like, scroll, like, scroll, comment, like. The cycle continues, first with Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram, never ending as more content constantly materializes into the cyber badlands that is the internet.
Bred from Instagram, one of the top social media platforms, is a more recent sort of subgenre known as the “finstagram,” short for “fake Instagram.” Shortened to “Finsta,” Finstagram has become the latest evidence of the paradoxical intimacy the world wide web can provide.
“It’s something that I only let select people join into,” Tulane sophomore Reagan Garvin said. “I choose carefully what friends I let see it … because a Finsta has things that I would not post on a normal Instagram, whether it be because the photo is ugly or … I don’t want professional people seeing it. A Finsta is sort of like an alter ego.”
This opportunity to construct an “alter ego” or parallel self that Finstagram presents is actually a major draw for many people. For some, there is a chance to portray themselves as someone else entirely. For others, there is a chance to truly and comfortably be themselves.
“My real Instagram is much more manicured and constructed in that you know the pictures are obviously intentionally taken, have good lighting and filters,” Tulane freshman Tigre Mui said. “… But then [with] Finsta, maybe I’ll just take a picture of me when I first wake up in the morning looking like a chupacabra or something hideous like that. So I feel like my fake Instagram ironically depicts a truer picture of myself than my real Instagram.”
While some, like Mui, feel that Finstagram is where they can portray themselves as they actually are, others may not entirely agree.
“People are still curating it and making it for an audience,” Tulane freshman Emma Braunstein said. “I think people are very cognizant when they’re posting photos on it. They’re catering to their followers and an audience like, ‘Look, this is my platform!’ but it’s more personal … Some people make it like a diary that’s very clearly … pretty contrived.”
Though its official definition on UrbanDictionary.com was initially posted in 2013, only in 2015 was the concept embraced by young Instagram users. Since then, the number of Finsta accounts are speculated to have substantially increased, though there are not any hard numbers to verify this. It has become more than just a private Instagram account but rather a community of tight-knit peers who have granted one another access to some of the most personal pieces of themselves.
There are also Finstagram accounts used solely as picture journals in which users can express themselves and even vent after a long day.
“The general trend is that people just use it as a place to just talk about their day or things they find interesting that … they wouldn’t necessarily put on their real Instagram,” Mui said. “It’s kind of like the new Twitter.”
Though Twitter is not dead yet, Finstagram has risen in the ranks in terms of social media subculture. Boasting its own unspoken rules and its clandestine community, it seems like its future is promising. But of course, only time will tell.
“It’s a fad. I think they’ll be around for probably another year at most,” Garvin said.
Whether Finstagram sticks around or disintegrates into the virtual graveyard among the likes of Myspace and “Deez Nuts,” its existence may be proof that young adults share a common ground of a thirst for exclusivity and intimacy, due to the prominence of social media in today’s day and age.