I remember downloading Instagram for the first time in middle school at the insistence of my friends and feeling only a vague sense of disappointment. At that time, Instagram was really nothing more than a cute photo-editing app, with its grunge, stark filters and iconic hashtags. inking the app’s vogue was just a passing craze, I forgot all about it for a while.
Five years later, Instagram’s popularity hasn’t petered out—it’s erupted. Encapsulating everything from multimillion-follower meme accounts to personal user accounts, Instagram has become one of the necessities of modern-day media. And so, it’s not surprising when one person might allow up to hundreds or even thousands of people into insights of their personal lives as captured and displayed in a feed. When you try to visually summarize your entire life into squares on a phone screen, you can’t help but edit, or “cultivate,” as some might call the tendency. You’re never going to see anything but the bright side of the moon when you stalk that one new girl’s profile.
With the rise of “finstas,” however, this sense of false cultivation is beginning to change. An abbreviated amalgam of the words “fake” and “Instagram,” finstas are any- thing but fake. In fact, they are ironically far more genuine than the alleged “rinstas,” or “real Instagrams.” Urban Dictionary defines finstas as accounts people make because “they o en care too much about what they post on their real Instagram that they feel the need to have a second, less public one.” True to the definition, finstas in practice are Instagram accounts set to “Private” so that only select followers can see the pictures. For most, access to finstas is shared with only a small selection of one’s friends; follower counts often only hit the dozens.
Finstas are the liberators or people who feel restricted by the need to keep their rinsta feeds pristine and glamorous. A finsta account lets people abandon the traditional edits and filters. Accepting only exclusive followers the user is comfortable with allows people to share the raw, unedited snapshots of their lives. Whether that snapshot be an ugly triple-chinned selfie or a screenshot of a hilarious text conversation, the existence of finstas allows people to be vulnerable, even if only to select number of people. Suddenly, you can become a real and complete person. Your life is not all paradisiacal poolsides and neon raves and sunlit afternoons spent in meadows. Here is an outlet where you are free to complain about math homework, laugh at cringeworthy flirting attempts, rant unrestricted about your sorrows and what’s more, to have other people see and laugh and lament along with you.
Some might see finstas as redundant and unnecessary. True, it’s ironic that most finsta owners also have their main account set to “private”—where is the need, after all, for two private accounts? As for unnecessary, the jury is still out on the subject. If a day ever comes when people are capable of relaxing their grip on the perfection of a beautiful feed, perhaps then finstas will have lost their need. But for now, finstas allow people to show their followers a glimpse of their real lives rather than the filter- coated rinsta version.