The Life-Changing Magic of Finsta

The Life-Changing Magic of Finsta

Being raw, unfiltered and real on Instagram? Yeah, it’s finally a thing



The first time I’d heard of “finsta” was in tipsy conversation with a friend at a beer brewery up north. When questioned, she did a quick scroll-through of her account for me and the other people at the table. She said it was an account where she would post random photos from her daily life, one that was completely unassociated from the Instagram profile we all knew and followed. Apparently, it had been a trend to have your own among her friends at school. At the time, I didn’t really understand just why they existed, or why she was so devoted to posting daily on an account that only her closest friends knew of. That was, until I created my own.

Real Instagram vs. Finsta


Finsta, short for fake Instagram, is pretty self-explanatory. It’s probably just what you think it is—minus all the ideas of it having anything to do with catfishing. I quickly found out that the finsta trend had caught on at my college orientation, with roughly eight out of the ten people I bothered to befriend having one. While trying to explain what it was to a noob like me, two people began to argue, saying that finstas were different from “dumps,” the latter being a place where you post about your day, or where you can, like the name says, dump random posts. Mr. Dumps-Aren’t-Finstas said that no, finstas are instead where you put the photos that you liked but didn’t fit your feed. The topic was changed shortly after and the fake insta debate ended in an anticlimactic draw.


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The Life-Changing Magic of Finsta So, which one is it?

Going back to what finsta stands for, I think that it meets the requirements as long as the account is “fake” and apart from the one you normally give out to people you’ve just met.

The day I finally caved and made a finsta of my own, I hadn’t meant to get so into it. At most, it was supposed to be a joke between my group wherein we’d make accounts with names and posts that mocked one of our friends’ daily journals. At the time, I couldn’t believe that she’d been doing it for two years and counting. That changed pretty quickly.

One month into snapping photos and putting up my own posts, I found myself becoming more and more invested in it.


For the first few months after I breathed life into my finstagram, my account was left public. It was a place where I could show many of my non-college friends just what my life as a design student was like, since I was always faced with many questions about what people in my major do, what our assignments were like and how different the curriculum is from more corporate courses. But gradually, my captions went from “today was a fulfilling day!~” to “felt like rubbish because I didn’t get the grade I wanted” and it felt much too personal to leave out in the open like that.


More than just a convenient journal that I couldn’t shove into a drawer and forget about like I did all my elementary school diaries, my account became a place where I could reflect on a day’s events and see what made me happy, what I regretted, and what I wanted to try again. It was where I could express what I couldn’t say out loud and in a relatively new school environment and get some weight off my shoulders. In the same way, it gave my new college friends a bit more understanding of what my thoughts were on a certain day. I’d been called a robot by my college friends due to my so-called lack of emotions, and am probably the walking definition of the word “introvert,” so I felt this could be my way of opening up to them without actually having to go through awkward conversations and feel sweat start to form in my palms while watching their reactions. The Life-Changing Magic of Finsta


On a Saturday night in, I’d been chatting with a friend when I shifted the topic of conversation to the weight that our finstas held in our lives. She said that more than it was a place for her to post “unworthy” pics that could ruin her feed or a dump for her daily journals like mine was, it was something she made when she was going through a rough patch and needed to talk about her feelings in detail. It meant a lot to her because whenever she’d let someone new gain access to her posts, that was a whole new person who could just read about her sadness, anger and thoughts that she normally kept locked up for herself. Of course not everything she posted would come across so negatively, but it was a platform where she could let loose during her toughest times.


The Life-Changing Magic of Finsta To get a third opinion, I asked Mr. Dumps-Aren’t-Finstas, whose opinion on what his account is seems to have changed in the last 5 months. To him, his finsta still doesn’t hold as much value as it does to some of my other friends. Instead, what started out as a collection of nice pictures that didn’t make the cut is now a place for “memories and shi-” and, very rarely, one to rant about an event that inconvenienced him during the day. When he has something to say, he’ll say it through there instead of tarnishing his heavily curated public Instagram profile—but he can still live without it.

Finstas, what they contain and what they mean, really depend on the people behind the screen but something I found in common is that they all serve as a window of sorts into a person’s realest thoughts.


It’s a little ironic thinking about it, how having an account dedicated to showcasing the real side of yourself has started to become a thing on the hyper-curated world of Instagram. It’s a small form of self-care and acceptance. The internet has birthed a lot of stupid trends, but maybe this is one of those rare, good ones that are actually worth trying.


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Words Nina Treñas

Art Alexandra Lara


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