Whenever I hear of a new term used by the young crowd that is totally unbeknown to me, a thought always comes to mind: “Well, this was just another proof of being run over by time”. It is rather uncomfortable to entertain such thoughts; probably the only worse imaginable scenario would be to shout at the crowd “you kids are clueless, let me show you how it’s done.” In any event, before we move any further, I just felt the need to put out this disclaimer and preemptively protect from the “no-way-you-haven’t-heard-about-this” comments.
Here is what unfolded a few days ago – I have heard, for the very first time, the word “finsta”. I was in a mixed-age group, overhearing a conversation between two people in the background:
Person A: “OMG, just check this out. I look horrendous!”
Person B: “C’mon, this may not be the best you’ve looked in your life, but it is totally finsta.”
Person A: “You are right, it totally is. I should share it with the crew there.”
There is no pressing need to get into details of how I skillfully maneuvered into that conversation and snooped out what the whole thing is about.
So, finsta apparently is a combination of two separate words: “fake” and “Instagram”, Finstagram is therefore a fake Instagram, of sorts. But it is not that simple. Finsta is a true Instagram account opened by those who want to remain connected to only a small group of closest friends on this social media platform. As far as I understood, a person would have barely ten followers on the account. Each and every one of the followers would be people that the account owner knows really well in person and keeps regular contact with, out in the real world.
The main thing with the finsta account is that it must stay completely off the grid for anyone who is not a member of the selected few. This is why people are so protective of those accounts. The name of the finsta account has to be a secret; only the true followers would know of it. Fake instagram account is not connected to other social media accounts of the owner so as to not allow for tracking or recognition.
Finstagram usually comes as a secondary, additional IG account to the main one the person already has under a recognizable nickname. So, the owners of finsta accounts run their own regular Instagram that anyone can follow. The main Instagram account publishes photos that would be expected as regular content – romantic sunsets, amazing food, gorgeous people, well-known places, great parties… In short, the photos there are polished, filtered and cinched to the max. Unlike finsta that has a limited number of followers, Instagram account remains the place where the number of followers is directly proportional to our measure of success, happiness and enjoyment.
What is this all about? Why are people opening up another account for just a selected few, when we already have thousands of delighted followers who are liking all the beautiful snippets of our life? The answer to this question from Person A was: “Because I can be my true self on finsta”.
This is what left me in utter confusion. When anyone has a chance to present to the world what they think, how they look, whom they spend time with, where they travel to, we somehow feel that our true self needs to be protected – how did it come to that? More importantly, who are we guarding against?
The answer to these questions is not that complicated, despite conflicting first impressions. We protect our true self from the fake self we project onto the social media platforms and channels that are readily available one click away and largely overused to show the false image to the world.
There is more to be said with respect to the fact that our true name is associated with our fake self, and proudly so, while our true self is hidden behind a moniker no one knows of?
It was never easy to be who you really are. Today it seems even harder to be just that. This stems from the fact that falsely portraying oneself was never easier or more common, in fact it has become so widespread that we start believing our own deceptions.
What is really messed up is the constant blurring of the lines. For those on Finstagram, hope is slim but still there, and I support them – they at least still acknowledge that the line exists. Still.