Finstas & Online Personas - #TRT

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When I say “fake internet account,” what comes to mind? Trolls, right? Or fake Twitter accounts, spam accounts, etc. I know, I know – this doesn’t sound very trendy. Stay with me, though. There’s a bright side to fake accounts that may help us redefine intimate friendships in the age of the Internet. Since the dawn of time, people have embraced alter egos as a form of self-expression. Now, we’re experiencing this concept of agency and identity as it applies to the good ol’ world wide web. But let’s step back, because this sounds familiar.

I know I’m not the only 20-something-year-old who spent more than 10 hours a week updating my Myspace profile in middle and early high school. I lowkey taught myself basic HTML so I could have an ~aesthetic,~ prevent anyone from pausing whatever terrible song I felt represented my feelings, and of course, so I could hide my top eight and avoid middle school dramz with my BFFs. Little did I know, what I was excited to create wasn’t just a Laguna Beach layout or an elusive-yet-flirty bio. I was in fact creating a personal brand. I was key messaging myself with my interests, goals and passive aggressive bulletins about my friends and crushes. I was visually branding myself with my ridiculous photos (i.e. everything black and white except me.) I was creating a brand because, as most young people do, I wanted to be understood. More specifically, I wanted to dictate how my peers would understand me.

The internet has changed a lot in the past twelve years, but human emotion stays the same. We all want to be understood, and we want to decide how were represented. We deserve to dictate our sense of self, and social media developments have only made it easier. Users are starting to move past personal branding. Now, online communities have created spaces and platforms for users to let go of inhibitions and express themselves more freely than ever before.

So, I first heard about finstas a couple years ago from a 15-year-old, so it’s certifiably “what the kids are up to.” Finsta stands for “fake Instagram,” but parents need not freak out. In fact, this is a pretty cool evolution of social media if you worry about the youths oversharing online. Gen Z and some millennials have taken to fake Instagram accounts (usually in addition to their other Instagram) to post things they might not want to share with everyone.

Maybe they’d like to share a screenshot of something shitty their ex-boyfriend said to them and how it made them feel. Or that photo they love of their BFF, who looks too drunk to share publicly. Possibly they’re using the space to share selfies because they like their makeup that day. These more vulnerable posts are under lock and key, or at least Instagram’s privacy feature. Most finsta’s have less than 100 followers. It is literally the anti-Instagram account.  

Secret Facebook groups have also done a lot to grow like-minded communities. Whether it’s makeup fans or political groups, these spaces give users the safety to express and articulate themselves without messy Facebook judgment. You know what I’m talking about. The one day you post a selfie because you dig your outfit or are simply feeling good about yourself, and some random acquaintance swoops in to tell you to smile more. None of that! It’s all about support. It’s all about self-love. It’s all about the finsta. 

Emily Kealey