Teenagers create secondary accounts to showcase their true personalities

By Caroline Favret, ’18 and Kaitlyn Kincaid, ’18

This graph shows the popularity of the search term Finstagram on Google.

The popularity of the search term Finstagram on Google, starting in 2004.

In 2016, a new social media came into fashion: “The Finstagram.” A “Finstagram” or “Finsta” is an Instagram account that is usually private, where users create a parody username in place of their real name, with limited followers. Usernames can be anything from inside jokes to nicknames.  It is not its own app, nor is it officially recognized by Instagram.  The first Google searches of this term appeared around Nov. 2011, but didn’t start rising in the number of searches until Oct. 2015.  In October 2016, it hit its peak popularity.

Generally, these accounts will be full of funny or relatable posts only meant for close friends to see.  Finstas will often only follow other Finstas, and only follow requests from Finstas will be accepted.

Rinstas vs Finstas

UAHS junior Emily Sexton was one the first students in Upper Arlington to create her Finstagram.

“My friend Libby White (a junior at Wellington) had one and I thought it was a good way to be able to post whatever you want pretty much without all of your followers seeing it,” Sexton said.

Often these accounts have follower counts in the double digits, in contrast to the person’s Rinsta, or real Instagram, which will have hundreds to thousands of followers. Junior Will Dierker’s Finsta follows this trend.

“I think I have about 40 followers on my Finsta versus a lot more on my real Instagram,” Dierker said.

Rinstas feature only the most attractive photos of a person, as they are edited, filtered and multiple photos are looked through to find the pose that most flatters them.  Double posts, or posting two photos in a row, are sometimes acceptable, but frowned upon, so teenagers are known to avoid them. Instagram photos are also strategically posted during prime post hours, usually consisting between the hours of 8 pm to midnight and users find that one perfect photo for the maximum amount of likes.

Finstas on the other hand allow a person to post whatever they please, or what they find humorous but isn’t appropriate for everyone following them, such as younger siblings or family members.  Crying photos, triple chin selfies, and embarrassing videos are all fair game.

Ironically, this can paint a more “real” picture of a person than their Rinsta can and having an alter ego is a refreshing alternative to one’s primary Instagram.  Humorous social media accounts allow students to connect with their peers.

“It’s a more laid back version of Instagram,” Sexton said.

Multiple posts a day are the norm for some, and the more hashtags the better.  On Finstas, likes aren’t as crucial, and nobody’s parent will be seeing the posts.  However, teens who use finsta can sometimes start to feel “invincible” and post more risky subject matter, such as teen drinking, on accounts referred to as Dinstas.

Junior Meredith Mimnaugh has a Finsta and regularly uses it to post to her followers.

“I think Finstas are just a fun way people can say funny things they think. Dinstas could be unsafe if people choose to post pictures of themselves drinking or doing other things that colleges could get a hold of but otherwise I think they’re fine,” Mimnaugh said.

Future Impacts

Though these posts may seem all in good fun, they can have serious repercussions.  Screenshots are always an issue, and once a post is out there it can never be completely erased.

With the rise of social media comes the rise of future employers and college admission offices having the ability to see more into people’s private lives than ever before.  One sketchy post can dash interview chances and ruin your future with one simple tap.

Based on statistics from the Society for Human Resource Management, the two most common reasons employers opted not to hire someone, based on the person’s social media activity, were provocative or inappropriate photos or similar information (cited by 46 percent of respondents) or the applicant posted information about themselves drinking or using drugs (41 percent).

Student resource officer Jon Rice weighed in on this aspect of social media.

“You end up crossing the line when you post pictures of drugs, alcohol, parties and

unflattering photos of people that you don’t get along with,” Rice said.

Unfortunately, this is ends up being a solid amount of Finsta posts.  Apps do have the ability to blur out alcohol bottles in the background of a photo, but Instagram has a zoom feature and it’s not difficult to figure out what the sticker or blur is concealing.  Referencing alcohol in captions is even more common than having a bottle in the photo.

Even though it’s a “fake Instagram”, Dierker doesn’t advocate posting drinking photos or mature content.

“Its kinda dumb because you can get caught — it’s still under your name, your email so they can trace it back,” Dierker said.

Because of this, Dierker sticks to mainly posting rants on his account instead of explicit or mature content.

“My posts are mostly rants,” Dierker said.

Social Media Safety

Rice preaches the “only post what you would show your grandmother” rule.

“If there is another account created to be funny or to flame yourself, you should be okay. On the other hand, if you are flaming someone else or posting images that you wouldn’t want your mom to see, you are going to have a problem,” Rice said.

Rants are usually in the clear, just make sure to remember screenshots exist, and badmouthing someone else can get around. With the existence of group messages, screenshots can be spread easily and quickly. Though this may seem far in the future for most high school students, posting negative comments about work can also result in getting fired. It can also affect college admissions and loss of scholarships.

In 2014, an Ohio waitress was fired for posting about bad tips at the restaurant for which she was employed.  A customer printed out a screenshot of the post and showed it to her boss. In 2012, a top football recruit was expelled from his high school and lost his scholarship to the University of Michigan for tweeting inappropriate media.

With social media on the increase, there are new social media sites and trends emerging everyday.  Finstagram is just one of these that has become mainstream in 2016.  As with any social media, it adds to one’s permanent digital footprint.  Rice suggests steering clear of Finstas altogether.

“It’s better to keep one account and resist creating a second,” Rice said.

However, Finsta is quickly becoming popular among students and will likely stay that way.  It is now a common way for friends to communicate and stay in touch after school hours, share things they care about, and rant. Not to mention, old middle school photos of good friends can be a great source of humor.