Oh, Instagram. The social media app with curated feeds, posed pictures, and crazy algorithms. Our online lives revolve around sharing bits and pieces of our lives for others to scroll past or double-tap. Yet there are those who choose to separate online from IRL through a fake Instagram or a “finsta”.
Pro: You control who follows you
One the main appeals of having a private Instagram account is you can control who can see the stuff you post there. “Initially, the only people I allowed to follow my finsta were those that allowed me to follow their finsta accounts and my closest friends. Nowadays, I still tend to keep my finsta account private to a very small circle of friends,” 26-year-old college student Mars shared. They currently have over 400 followers on their main account and 23 followers on their private one.
“Growing up, I was accustomed to wanting people to praise me for what I'm doing but that only put so much pressure on me,” 24-year-old writer Jessa explained. “I've also gone through the phase of wanting to get a lot of followers so I guess that's why I've had a bunch of them on my main IG account. With my finsta, though, I get to post whatever I like without having to worry about 800+ people seeing it anytime they want to!” To date, Jessa has 46 followers on her private account.
Con: You get anxious about being “discovered”
Fake Instagrams aren’t completely hidden though. Acquaintances can still be pointed to your profile by the pesky “People You May Know” algorithm Instagram has. “It makes me slightly paranoid that someone I know may also see my finsta account show up. This is partially why I choose to keep my finsta so no one can follow it out of the blue,” Mars added.
“Some acquaintances already requested to follow my finsta but I declined it,” Jessa said. “I don't feel bad, though! I have to protect my peace and that includes taking control over people who get to see my [candid content].”
Pro: There’s less pressure on what to post
Another benefit of having a finsta is you don’t have to think about the “quality” of your posts. You’re free to be as candid and raw as you’d like. “I am far more vulgar and comfortable being so on my finsta, while my main account’s posts are more thoughtfully curated,” Mars shared. They even said they’re “not comfortable” posting their finsta content on their main account. They also said that they like making posts and captions according to their mood, without having to think about how other people (especially family members) would react.
Instead of posts, Jessa prefers to use her finsta for making transparent Instagram stories. “I love sharing snippets of my day. I'd say that I post more unfiltered stories on my finsta and save the more proper ones for my main IG account.”
Con: It’s a hassle switching between personas
since I can no longer go on my silly little 1am rants on here without them blowing up, my finsta story now looks like this pic.twitter.com/6NIh1RiNPu— irene anna (unionized version) (@enerianna) April 24, 2021
Imagine forgetting to switch from your main to your secondary IG and posting finsta content on your feed or Story. We assume it would cause a little anxiety. Jessa, who tried posting a raw Instagram story on her main account, said she felt “naked” when her post received more than 150 views in 24 hours. “I got used to the 20 views more or less on my finsta,” she explained.
Both Mars and Jessa said they ended up using one account over the other to keep things simple. Jessa sticks to her finsta while Mars prefers their main account. “It’s nice to keep up with old friends and acquaintances, as well as all the celebrities and artists that I follow solely on that account,” they shared.
Pro: It can be good for your mental health
We all know the pitfalls of social media. Cyberbullying and unattainable beauty standards are some of the toxic issues that come with having an online presence. A 2020 study on Singaporeans even showed that social media use has a bigger effect on one’s self-esteem and tendency to self-compare. “I made my finsta because most of the content I see on my main IG is very toxic and detrimental, at some point, to my mental health. Although I know that I have the power to unfollow these people, most of them are my college batchmates and I feel like it would be weird for them to maybe know that I've cut them off,” Jessa recalled.
Now, Jessa follows only people whose “content matters most to [her]” and allows her to keep “a safe space” on her secondary account. She follows fitness gurus Lucy Mountain and Pamela Reif — “both of which I don't really feel pressured to do something” — and her closest friends from high school and college. It brings a sense of peace, as she called it, knowing that she’s “not [always] on the verge of comparing [herself]” to the people she comes across on her feed.
Con: It can potentially be bad, too
On the flip side, a finsta’s general anonymity can also be a drawback too. It can be used as a tool for online bullying, according to the Huffington Post, since it allows people to hide behind the anonymity the fake Instagram provides. This poses a danger to teens who are highly susceptible to criticism and consequently negatively impact their mental health. Yes, online bullying isn’t anything new, sadly, but it’s even worse when coming from an unknown person on the Internet.
At the end of the day, it’s important that you create a safe space for yourself on and offline. Whether that’s purging your entire following and follower list or making a finsta, you do what works for you.
(Cover photo from: Maddi Bazzocco via Unsplash)
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