When speaking about social media, many (adults) usually lecture the youth about showing the best side of ourselves online. But with the rise of finstas/spam accounts, this stereotype loses its credit and is a phenomenon that is very intersting.
The whole spam/finsta rise makes me think a lot about the relationship between oversharing and your online personality. When reading or listening to people speak about this topic in the past, it usually relates to modern “online public figures” like youtubers, who share their personal lives online for an audience to consume. Spam accounts kind of serve to do this, to break down a barrier between an audience and the figure in question, but doesn’t necessarily need to be by someone who is popular and can be shared exclusively between close friends. But I can’t help but think of the negatives of this situation.
I don’t personally have a spam account, but I understand that many turn to these accounts when they’re sad, anxious, angry, depressed, manic, lonely, etc and could end up being counterproductive to their mental health. Having an outlet to express yourself is fine, it actually is amazing that we’ve come to the point where there’s more realness and honesty online, but oversharing constantly and consistently can be lonely and alienating. Sharing thoughts like this may let people feel as if they can numb themselves to the pain the person in question is feeling; instead of offering help and acknowledging their feelings as legitimate, it’s becoming increasingly easy to bandwagon along their feelings and add counterproductive comments like “same”, “rt”, etc. I also feel as if constantly sharing these thoughts online also makes it hard to turn it off. Spams are meant to be an escape, but can easily be toxic, and I feel as if as much as honesty online is fantastic at times, people need to be reminded that asking for help is okay, that ranting/talking to others offline is often the perfect remedy and logging out from your finsta is often vital in order to self-reflect and grow.
Also, if you’re interested in more on this topic, I’d suggest watching NotJustBlonde aka Zannah's video on sharing online in the age of spams and finstas.
I have mixed feelings about attitudes towards social media in general. On one hand, I understand the possibility of being too engrossed in social media to the point where life revolves around getting the right pictures for your Instagram feed later. However, I also think the panic around this is disproportionate, as is the panic around the increasing use of social media generally. It’s partly fuelled, in my opinion, by a lack of understanding from older generations. You see think pieces all the time about how “Social media is ruining our children!” and 9 out of 10 times, they’re probably written by adults with Nokias. I think it’s also linked to how little credit society affords teenagers, the main demographic on social media. We don’t lack the intellect or common sense to be able to separate social media from our everyday lives. Yes, we may talk about it a lot, but it’s something that we have grown up with. It is part of our sociolect. This doesn’t mean it’s all-encompassing or evil. And this doesn’t mean that we aren’t aware that the lives we see online aren’t as peachy as their Tweets.
When we create “rinstas” vs. “finstas”, I don’t believe it’s with the intention of separating the good from the bad. I believe it’s a replication of regular human interaction, as most social media use tends to be: there are parts of our lives we are happy to bring up in conversation with strangers or family friends (“Oh yeah, I went out for lunch with my friends yesterday!”), and parts that we will only talk about with those we’re close to (“It was actually the first time I’d left the house in a week” or “I really have a crush on one of them”). The private nature of “finstas”, as well as private Twitters etc., allows us to filter who can see our content - often our close friends, or people that we know will understand what we go through.
This isn’t something I think we should be scared of. I think it, and all social medias, have the potential to be very positive. It’s fundamentally our own interactions with the platforms that will determine if they are good for us or not.
Though I was hesitant about making a so-called “finsta” account at first, I’ve slowly grown to become absolutely enthralled by the idea. It’s a space that we’ve created for ourselves to share absolutely anything and even though the idea is that they’re “fake accounts”, they end up showing more of the real person than any other account.
I love the idea of openness and making others feel as though they aren’t alone; it’s about a balance between sharing the good, the bad, and everything in between. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with showing only the good, but openness on social media brings people back down to earth, makes them more approachable, and can help others to know that someone else has encountered the same struggles.
Personally, I have both a “real” Instagram account and a “fake” one. On my real account, I keep a consistent aesthetic and share the happy news and events going on in my life. On the other hand, my other account shares my struggles and allows me to release my inner emotions with people I trust. It’s a doorway to complete openness and makes me feel comfortable with my own emotions, even if I don’t always portray that to the world.
I don’t think that just because someone only posts about the good things in their life, that that makes them “bad” in any way. Some people aren’t comfortable sharing every aspect of their lives on the Internet and that’s okay. I don’t think they should be blamed for “over-glamorization”, but I do think that everyone, especially young teens, should be careful with what they see and be aware that nobody’s life is perfect.
If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m fiercely pro-Internet: I think that overall, social media is a force for good.
This month’s Riseponds theme immediately reminded me of Essena O’Neill’s decision to re-caption her Instagram posts with the truth behind them in 2015, inspiring plenty of social media users (teenage girls like her and people of every other demographic alike) to do the same.
I’d like to welcome this shift to a more ‘truthful’ way of using social media with open arms. When I began to see people of all sorts (friends, complete strangers, social media stars) address their real-life problems online, it served as a sort of revelation to me; seeing people who I look up to become more open about their issues made me realise that nobody is perfect, which is a rather refreshing thought in the midst of the age of Photoshop.
For me, oversharing only becomes a problem depending on what app you’re using and how you use it. In my opinion, finstas and private accounts across social media are fine. These are private spaces where (hopefully) only individuals you trust and feel comfortable with can see what you’re doing. When an underage individual posts drinking, smoking, or other activities on a public profile such as a Snapchat story or public Instagram account, that person is only one screenshot and message away from having so many opportunities taken from them (scholarship opportunities, extracurricular opportunities, jobs, simple respect, etc.) and this is where I think the line needs to be drawn. Taking part in any less than legal action is something that’s absolutely up to the individual in the moment and their weighing of responsibility vs. benefit, but posting about it is just irresponsible and has no benefits at all.
Posting the “glam” life on social media has so many angles and I’ll explore just a few. For some, seeing these accounts may become a stressor and cause individuals yearning to be like the owners of said accounts to try to become like those people instead of finding themselves and embracing their own character. That side of “glam” social media definitely sucks. However, while I’m not defending the owner’s actions, having a “glammed” up account might be a small source of happiness or tranquillity in a life that we can’t know the details of. Perhaps sponsoring companies pays the bills, or being able to look back on those sweet memories is an important relief mechanism in that account owner’s life. Unfortunately, the tangled web of social media has ensured that owners and onlookers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and it’s up to the viewers to become educated and realize that not everything is at seems with these accounts - and that there’s more to life in general.
I think that a lot of the time people are criticized for being “fake” on their real Instagrams because they aren’t showing the truth, which isn’t necessarily true. In my opinion, it makes sense that people only show their good sides and what they do for fun on social media because people are inherently judgemental and so putting your best foot forward can save you from judgement. I don’t think it’s right that people feel the need to show off for social media, but I understand why people do it. Having a “finsta” can help people use social media in a way that they won’t feel judged. They’re a source of entertainment and a way for people to get a break from the “perfect” lives they see on their regular feeds. Social media comes with such a heavy weight attached to it that “finstas” have provided some relief for many people.