I can’t recall when I first learned about finstas, but I do know that making one changed my entire perception of social media. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here are some useful definitions:
Finsta (n.) — a fake Instagram account typically with private settings and less followers than a rinsta.
Rinsta (n.) — a real Instagram account typically with more followers and information curated to public viewing.
In my opinion, these names are ironic because they should be switched. My experience with finstas and rinstas, from following them and having my own accounts, has taught me that finstas are typically a more honest portrayal of someone’s life than a rinsta because they are less manicured and only viewable by a specific group of people (usually close friends). I have found that typically (though not always) rinstas are polished portrayals of the highlights of someone’s life, while finstas can include the good and the bad. Finstas are shaped by the owner’s unique personality, while many rinstas fall into the same trend of beautiful pictures and clever captions.
For me, having a finsta is liberating in the sense that I don’t have to consider others’ judgements or opinions before I post. I can be annoying or funny unapologetically. Liberties like ranting in my captions or posting pictures that don’t match my “aesthetic” (in quotations because I don’t really have one, but many rinsta accounts do) are perfectly acceptable on a finsta account, yet they may be subject to harsh critics if posted on a rinsta. Rinstas seem to be taken more seriously, whereas finstas can be overwhelmed with memes and goofy pictures.
What creates this sharp dichotomy in self-portrayal? I believe it’s the audience. Because rinstas include followers who are not close friends or even strangers, they do not usually include content that is as personal as a finsta account. Thus, I believe that finstas are actually one’s real Instagram account, while rinstas portray someone’s life more artificially.
Contact Phoebe Quinton at pquinton ‘at’ stanford.edu.