The pains of sharing a photo on Instagram are almost endless. A button that is too big, a filter that is too “cheugy” and a smile that is too big can all be considered a final defect. Even after you’ve found the right photo, there’s still the aesthetic to consider – pulling and twisting a photo you like to fit into the dollhouse that’s your profile page. This pre-post step is mandatory: you need to clean up the clutter in an image, so that it can perfectly occupy an ornate frame like an open door nightmare.
To be honest, this elaborate process is too much for me. I haven’t posted on Instagram in, like, a year. Or, well, I haven’t posted to my “main” account, that is. Over the summer, I cultivated my “fake Instagram,” aka finsta, as a chaotic conglomerate of bad poetry and late-night getaways for my 10 followers. This smaller private account allowed me to express my feelings and post about privacy in a way my main account could never allow. Why on earth would I want my aunt – one of my many main Instagram followers – to know when I’m clubbing, cruising, and crashing?
Unlike Facebook, there is a level of anonymity that is favored on Instagram. You are allowed to have multiple accounts under the same contact information. In fact, these accounts are not considered connected to each other, giving the Gen Z user the freedom to create as many niche and obscure accounts as they want. And finsta’s birth was inevitable after Instagram has become common. When you have hundreds of subscribers, finding a post that makes everyone happy is overwhelming. What might be funny to your college friends is “profanity” in the eyes of your uncle.
Unlike these anonymous niche accounts, the level of reality represented on major Instagram accounts is abysmal. There is a saturated market for face editing apps. There are websites that will create special instagram caption fonts for your next article. On some apps, you even have the option of knowing how and when your subscribers are using your account.
But running a personal Instagram shouldn’t feel like a marketing manager. Consolidating photos that are consistent with the “aesthetic” of your account might sound super cute, but is it true for yourself? Getting these photos means leaving parts of yourself outside of the image. Setting up photos at brunch seems a bit artificial if you didn’t want to be surprised before 1pm on a weekend.
Social media shouldn’t be limiting. Posting on your main page shouldn’t feel like adding decor elements to a retail display. You should feel like you are sharing what you love with people who care about you.
Of course, I have this feeling of genuine closeness among my 10 finsta subscribers, but at what cost? Why run this Hannah Montana fantasy – with girl next door Miley on a finsta and popstar Hannah on the main – when it’s easier to just grow an authentic digital character on one main account? Crispy dog photos, crying selfies and all?
Generation Z has taken note of these questions and Instagram culture has changed. People don’t use their finstas as much, perhaps because the pandemic has shown how tiring social media performance can be in the end. Now the areas are messier – in a good way.
It starts small. A post of a sunset meets a quote from Vine (aka an extinct predecessor to TikTok). As a result, screenshots from Twitter are used to punctuate the purposes of slideshow posts. You repost the content of @umichaffirmations more often. Insta Stories now contain Spotify recommendations and candid blurry photos.
I appreciate the frankness of the people that I am. Their pipes are messy in a way a room is inhabited. Sometimes you don’t make your bed, and that’s okay. Sometimes you get spots when taking a selfie, and that’s just as good. Your sweat shouldn’t kill your happiness, just as the assortment of mugs that adorn your bedroom isn’t bulky, but chic. I mean, my room right now is college style, raccoon-eyed chic; interior design is not my main concern.
The spaces in which we exist should not be ready-made displays. Instagram shouldn’t look like the dormitory shown to you while visiting campus. Social media isn’t the room where all your dirty clothes, mismatched socks, and ties are thrown in the closet. So it is 2015.
Let the chachkas you love and collect bathe in the sun. For so long, I thought social media was something to jot down or watch. But it can be something to explore and develop when you’re messy about the main thing.
Daily Arts Writer Matthew Eggers can be realled at [email protected]