I first heard about Finstas through work. I work in social media, but still, the concept totally threw me. A fake Instagram account… that’s more of a real Instagram account? What? And why?
Instagram, in general, is a strange platform to me. It started as a place for people to share their boring, day-to-day experiences: blurry photos of coffee, uncentered pictures of cute signs outside stores, a shot or two of the book they were reading, or (*shudder*) their laptop screen to highlight what they were watching on Netflix.
It used to be about what we were doing. Now it’s about the literal us.
We learn from our social metrics pretty quickly: what gets us that rush of likes and what gets us, well, nothing. Our faces and bodies pretty much always have to be the focal point, or else all our followers ignore the posts. A picture of a book is going to get one-third as many likes as a really good street style pic. A shot of my cat is only going to get likes if I’m in it and it’s a really good selfie of us both.
My relationship with Instagram fluctuates a lot. Some days, I love it. It’s a good way to keep in touch with friends, from tagging each other in memes to chatting in the DMs to hyping each other up in the comments. There are still some real, genuine spaces on Instagram where I’ve found community and regularly make it a point to engage with posts to support their creators.
But, other days, Instagram feels like a huge and draining project I have to maintain, because God forbid I not be an Internet Person for an entire week.
I’ll spend 10 minutes or 30 minutes or, OK, even an hour going through old photos just to dredge up something to post so I don’t have to go shoot something new just for Instagram. And I’m not even an influencer. I have less than 2,000 followers on Instagram! Who even cares about what I post?! Not many people, that’s who.
Still, though, the pressure exists.
It’s gotten to the point where my Instagram account is less about me, or even my followers, and just about feeding into that pressure. It’s hungry and it wants a post, and I have to give it the post it wants. It’s weird and twisted and probably a reflection of my own low-key addictive personality and guilt complex, but I’ve found it really hard to untangle completely from Instagram.
The thing I once found bizarre became something I decided to try out when I was at a party and a friend of mine excitedly confessed that we’d reached a point of newfound closeness: I was allowed to follow her Finsta. So, naturally, I had to make one too.
I grabbed a cute random picture of a cat wearing sunglasses and made up a bullshit username, and my Finsta was born.
And I absolutely love it.
On my Finsta, I only let six people follow me. It’s really only four people, since one of them is my actual account and two of them are my sister (her actual account plus her Finsta).
It’s a weird account with no rhyme or reason to it. I really embraced old-school Instagram and downloaded a bunch of fake film apps so my photos look way lower quality than a new iPhone allows for. I post photos of plants, photos of my shoes at the airport, screenshots from Instagram, and mirror selfies where I have zit cream on my face and am wearing ancient pajamas. I ramble like I used to on Tumblr in 2013 about my feelings and how my day is going.
The best part, by far, is that I literally don’t care if anyone responds or not. The pressure that drains me day by day on my main Instagram just doesn’t exist on my Finsta because all the people who follow me, and whose Finstas I follow, are people I genuinely have a relationship with offline.
If they don’t like a post of a cute basket of fruit I saw, a caption where I’m talking about my mental health, or a selfie with a dog, I don’t care, because we’ll talk about it in a more real way in real life.
My Finsta makes me feel like a person again — a person with four people to worry about instead of more than 1,000 strangers I may or may not ever meet in real life. And there’s something beautifully freeing about that.