Personal Instagrams distort people’s perceptions

Amanda Marchetta, Associate Editor

Oversharing. I am as guilty of it in real life as I am online, but as my social media use has increased, so has my inclination to tell the world what I am doing. The rise of so-called “personal” Instagram accounts has made me more aware of this problem.

Instagram claims it has 800 million users as of last year, and its average user has about 150 followers. On what people call fake Instagrams, or “Finstagrams,” they often have far fewer than that; these accounts serve to share more personal information with closer friends. I use my account to share news with my friends rather than telling them in person. I have also found myself using it to detail information I would otherwise feel uncomfortable telling others. This ability to share so frequently “leaves teenagers feeling more isolated and disconnected,” according to psychologist Patricia Shumay of Richfield. In other words, sharing ourselves on social media often has the opposite effect we wish it would.

I actually used my own Finstagram to ask people if they believed oversharing has become a larger part of our lives. They seemed to disagree with me, seeing Finstagrams as a way to represent themselves more accurately. Senior Julia Schwertner noted that people’s public accounts on almost every platform serve as a “highlight reel” of our lives, while Finstagrams document more of our day-to-day experiences. “[That’s] when people start to overshare,” Schwertner said. Senior Sophie Paxton mentioned that she likes Finstagrams because “people can make jokes. . . without getting judged heavily.” She added that she does not think people should share drama or mean posts, but that she does enjoy posting things that make her laugh.

Either way, Finstagrams have become an outlet to share more of our lives than we would in another context. My friends seem to agree that their accounts are mostly fun and that they do not see a problem, but I fear that I have become too accustomed to sharing my entire life. I’m working on becoming more aware of what I post and what I want to keep for myself.