Finstagram, aka "Finsta," stands for "Fun Instagram."
Sounds great, right?
You have your normal Instagram account with pictures of food, selfies, birthday shoutouts, and cool hike shots. Then, you have your Finsta with silly pictures of you and your friends, purposefully ugly pics, and hilarious dance videos taken at 2 a.m. in the library during finals week.
I wish that's what Finstas were really for.
Finstas are being used by college students and high schoolers to showcase a different kind of "fun." Mostly binge drinking and all that comes with it. Anything illegal goes, and people get applauded by their followers for the craziest drunk adventures out there.
So, who are their followers? Definitely not the same people following the regular accounts.
For those who aren't tech-savvy, Instagram makes it very easy to swap between accounts, so with a single tap you can switch to your Finsta, follow your friends' Finstas, and then have two separate worlds on Instagram. The result is all the normal accounts following each other, and then all of the Finstas following each other.
The problem with Finstagram accounts is not that they exist, or even the illegal or immoral acts being done on them. I mean I'm not a huge fan of those from a Catholic (or even logical) frame of mind, but it's the hiding and the duplicity of Finstas that strike me.
Why hide this Finsta side of you from certain people? Maybe it's your parents, your campus priest, or your siblings. Maybe it's a certain set of friends.
If you are proud of and happy with your life, why hide it?
I don't think Finstagram existed my freshman year at JMU, but I definitely filtered my social media occasionally, convincing myself that my church friends would "judge" me. It took me a while to realize what was actually happening.
I wasn't afraid of others' disapproval. I was ashamed of myself. Sorry for the confusing sentence that follows, but: I knew that my church friends knew that I knew better.
They knew the real me, and I was afraid of being called out on my double life. (Usually I'm the tough love friend.) They and I both knew that the party lifestyle wasn't good for me or my soul, and wouldn't satisfy me in the end.
So, what was I looking for? Validation from peers, for starters. Acceptance, Freedom, Fun. I was excited to go to my first college party because I thought that literally every college student goes and has fun. It was the part-of-the-college-experience garbage rhetoric I had been spoon-fed for years. If everyone recommends partying, it must be fun right?
Turns out parties aren't actually fun, unless I was drunk enough to escape the reality of it all. People making out everywhere, every other guy grabbing your butt as you walk by, music so loud you can't talk to anyone, and people throwing up off the porch didn't appeal to me. But, I'd still post a picture of me there to prove that college was great and I was having fun the "normal" way.
So, friends, for a long time I settled. I settled for an inauthentic life. I would be "fun Hope" on Saturday nights, and then have to recreate that personality the next morning to make sure I was still accepted by my squad. Actively trying to be the "fun Hope" was exhausting.
I just wanted friends who would accept me sober, in sweatpants, and laugh at dumb youtube videos until our abs hurt. I wanted friends who would challenge me to be a better person, not help me excuse what I did the night before like it didn't matter. I wanted friends who enjoyed the real me, no additives. When I found those people, I dumped my old life pretty easily.
Give yourself the gift of ONE authentic life. I really cannot tell you how much of a difference this lesson made to my happiness and peace.
Let's erase the duplicity that comes with being a college student these days. Make your Finsta actually fun, find friends who will call you out when necessary, and get those Confession graces whenever you need them.
Don't stifle yourself into ordinariness in college. God offers us an adventure of a life.
"If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness." -St Therese
St. Therese, Pray For Us!