According to traditional media, teen culture is weird. We can’t define what “dating” is, we send nudes to each other and think nothing of it, we can’t afford diamonds, we’re always on our phones, and we waste our money on avocado toasts. We’ve detached emotion from our sex lives, make memes, and laugh about our mental illnesses. Why are we like this? I have no idea.
What I do know is that among high school students, it’s a known fact that college admissions officers look through our social media accounts where we try to represent ourselves in the best possible way. But do our Instagram pictures represent who we actually are? I don’t think so. On my official Instagram profile, I look like an Asian model who has her life together and loves her Korean heritage. Do I have my life together? Nope. Do I love my Korean heritage? I try to. Do I always have a full face of makeup and cute clothes on? Absolutely not! Amazing senior photoshoots, hanging out with my friends at a lake, National Honors Society induction pictures, memories from a family vacation, and amazing prom pictures might portray me as a wholesome high school student. In reality, there’s a lot I don’t show to the public.
To capture the hidden me, I made a Finsta, which stands for fake Instagram to let my friends where I can cope with my problems by over-sharing. I talk openly about the f**kboy that’s pissing me off, post a “mood board” that has pictures representing how I feel at the moment, or share freely my depression and childhood traumas. As you can imagine, high school students go to parties, which isn’t something we want to share with the rest of the adult world. So, I post pictures of myself at parties on my Finsta, because my insiders should know it was a great party and my makeup looked good.
How I use my Finsta may be vastly different from how others use theirs. Many people post nudes or semi-nudes or pictures of them drinking and smoking. Most don’t post these photos because we think it makes us cooler than everyone else–which is what most adults assume. They post because they were genuinely having a good time while drunk, high, or naked.. We know those behaviors are illegal; but we reason it out by presuming that everybody’s done something illegal during their high school careers. Like it or not, social media technology has helped us become more open to sharing the non-filtered, bare aspects of our lives, including pictures of our bodies. As a teenager, I feel proud that we have developed this unique culture and made it productive for society.
Members of the Finsta community understand each other. It’s a free and open space. Nobody sets any ground rules for how it should work. But on a unconscious level, anyone with a Finsta knows that whatever another person talked about on their’s is strictly private. We see Finstas as an emotional trashcan that everybody can dump their personal problems into; just another way to communicate on a more honest level. We aren’t simply advertiser our problems to others, we’re showing them that we are real human beings, not simply the images we portray on our real Instagrams. We aren’t just the popular kids with our lives together, wearing vineyard vine shirts with Birkenstocks shoes, hammocking with families on the weekends, planning on going to ivy league colleges. We go to parties, get hammered, rant about parents, and post pictures of ourselves crying.
This secret society of Finstas is a broad and important component in today’s teen culture, one that not many adults know about. If you’re a parent to teens, there’s a good chance your child has a Finsta. Consider that neither a good nor bad thing, as long as they keep it under control and know how to separate their private life from the public. As a parent, it is your job to positively guide them how to be responsible young adults. When it comes to social media 2018, this is my contribution to getting you started.