Instagram has kind of become a way of life for a certain generation – almost as if it is a sort of a life résumé intended to show off a lifestyle. The typical images that one would encounter would be of attractive artisanal food, drunk-in-love couples or selfies by the hundreds in malls, resorts, restaurants and such like situations, all looking incredibly attractive because of mastery over assorted editing tools. The pressure on ordinary folks to glamorize their own lives has only increased in recent time with celebrities inundating the social media platform with their own posts that evoke envy. However, many people have now started becoming extremely tired of trying to live up to picture-perfect lifestyles expected by their followers and have created fake Instagram accounts or “finstagrams” that present a more real version of their lives. These accounts that capture reality are seldom seen by the usual followers of their main and largely synthetic accounts.
What exactly are Finstagrams?
Mainly created by teenagers and the below-20s, finstagrams are Instagram accounts that have only a very limited number of followers by design, usually restricted to a low double digit figure. Essentially, these are extremely private accounts that permit only the closes of friends to follow. A young Trinity College student with more than 2,700 followers on her Instagram account, who has restricted her finstagram followers to just about 50, observes that that the reason for creating the finstagram account was to post random stories or unattractive photos that you do not really want to the public at large to see lest it spoil the carefully-cultivated public image. Another student says that he uses the finstagram account to share jokes with a selected group of friends numbering around 25. He says that he has adopted this route because he would have been completely uncomfortable doing it on a more public platform because most people would not understood the jokes at all.
As amazing as it sounds, some use the fake account to stay better connected with family. A Wellesley College student with a Instagram follower base of close to six hundred has set up a finstagram account that she shares only with her sister to post picture of lizards that both are absurdly obsessed with! Rules that are sacrosanct on Instagram such as not posting more than once daily are flouted easily on finstagram.The most obvious difference is of course that there is no pressure to get followers on Instagram.
Mechanism to Cope With Pressure
It may come as a surprise to many reading this but an amazing 92% of teenagers between 13 and 17 go online every day and out of that more than half of them use Instagram. No doubt identity projection has been a struggle with the young folks of every generation but the current crop of teens really has to undergo more pressure as the feedback never stops given the ubiquity of social media. Explains a professor of psychology that earlier when you were asleep, you were asleep but had no worries about how people were judging you in the online space. This phenomenon has made social media somewhat of a burden and an essential part of life that needs to be managed well.
There has been some correlation found between the number of strangers followed by Instagram users with symptoms of depression such as fatigue, fearfulness and loneliness. Those with an abnormally high number of followers have complained of becoming machinelike and leading their lives to give others what is expected from them rather than expressing their own true selves. The more active you are on social media the more the chance of you succumbing to the fears, pressures, and expectations and need to be accepted. Creating a finstagram account seems to be a good opportunity to be true to oneself without caring what others would think.
Michael Clarke is a social scientist who has been conducting a number of studies with users of social media and their behavioral patterns. A recent study sought to correlate the urge to get followers on Instagram with early onset of depression.