As our online presence increasingly becomes our public face for everything, from dating to career, more women than ever are creating secret profiles reflecting the real them. LOOK reports…
Instagram: the place where the click of a button can make your hungover, tired skin glow, and pics of the flowers your boyfriend bought you can earn you ‘likes’ – as long as you leave out the fact they’re from a garage bargain bin, obvs. It’s also the app where high follower counts can equal a blossoming career and even a hefty pay packet. So it’s no surprise that two-thirds of us ‘airbrush reality’, replacing the less perfect-looking aspects of our lives with a world of swanky cocktails, avo-toast brunch and flawless park yoga.
But millennial women are now filtering their lives to a whole new level: by having two accounts. One, named ‘finsta’ (fake Instagram), a carefully-curated account where they showcase the best versions of themselves, and ‘rinsta’ (real Instagram), where everything is posted, flaws and all.
Madeleine Spencer, 30, found that separating her two accounts enabled her to maintain a professional front as a writer without alienating close friends with her ‘perfect’ posts. “I see my ‘finsta’ @madeleinelovesthis as my ‘shop window’ where I post beautiful pictures relating to my career. I can have a gorgeous shot of my flat with all the unsightly stuff, like my printer, well hidden,” she says. “My ‘rinsta’ isn’t relevant to the followers I don’t know, and has pictures of things like friends getting drunk or my sister’s wedding. Using my finsta to show off the more impressive side of my life has been a great way to boost my profile.”
Gaining traction and followers isn’t just good for many Instagram-users’ careers, it can totally transform them. It’s believed that big bloggers can command up to £10,000 per sponsored post and bag paid promotional deals. Caroline Calloway, 23, has reportedly snagged a four-figure book deal through Instagram, and the rise in fitness guru Kayla Itsines’ popularity has, undoubtedly, been down to her before-and-after Instagram pictures.
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But maintaining a picture-perfect ‘finsta’ can come at a cost – for you, and those around you. Research has found that and Instagram users feel 11 per cent worse about their lives, when scrolling through, than they do on other social media networks, and the rise of ‘digital amnesia’ (where you’re so reliant technology that your brain begins storing less information) means you can change the facts of your life so much that you might fail to recognise your own experiences.
Dr Hanna Krasnova, who recently did a study on Facebook and envy, agrees that Instagram could be more dangerous than other social media outlets. “You get more implicit cues of people being happy, rich, and successful from a photo than a status update,” she says. “A photo can, powerfully, provoke immediate comparison which can trigger feelings of inferiority.”
She also believes posting dishonest pictures could pull you into an ‘envy spiral’, where you compete with your friends for attention. “If you see amazing Instagram photos of your friend, one way to compensate is to self-present with better photos. Then your friend sees those and posts even better photos and so on,” she said. “Self promotion triggers self promotion and the world on Instagram gets further from the truth.”
While most Instagram users like to maintain a façade of effortlessness, celebs have started to open up about the time and effort they actually put into their accounts. Kim Kardashian has admitted that she takes hundreds of selfies before choosing one to post, and Alexa Chung confessed recently, “no one’s life is as good as it is on Instagram.”
Studies have found that excessive social media use and the editing of reality can be damaging, but there
While it might be an element, for big Instagram names like Madeleine, success isn’t all about faking it. “I’ve found through separating my accounts that it’s absolutely fine to post beautiful pictures, but they have to be grounded in reality,” she says. “That’s the only way anyone from the outside world is going to believe in your personal brand.”
“There’s A Huge Difference Between My Two Accounts”
Hazel Wallace, 24 is a medicine student from Dublin, Ireland. She runs Instagram account @TheFoodMedic where she posts health-related content, and has another account for her friends and family.
“I love having beautiful pictures on my ‘finsta’ Instagram feed, but it takes a huge amount of effort to get them looking that way. For posts on The Food Medic, it’s a long process where I’ll think about the perfect lighting or background. But my personal account is full of quick snaps of my friends, and memories I can share with my family.
There’s a huge difference between the two accounts, simply because they both do different things. On The Food Medic I have to portray myself as 100 per cent professional, so I’m not going to upload pics of me with a cocktail in hand, but I wouldn’t think twice about posting that on my rinsta.
I have 54.5K followers on my ‘finsta’, and I know the numbers would drop if I posted a pic that wasn’t well presented. This approach has gained me amazing opportunities, including being a brand ambassador for Muscle Food and appearing in catwalk shows.
There’s an element of exaggeration to it all, but that’s the nature of Instagram. I don’t think it’s deceiving people – I’m honest in my comments that my hair doesn’t always look good, or that sometimes I can’t be bothered to go the gym. Plus, my ‘real’ account is public, so anyone could search and see that my life isn’t perfect.
Instagram can be toxic, especially if you’re the sort of person who’s constantly comparing yourself. I’ve certainly had moments where I’ve looked through feeds and thought ‘why can’t my life be like that?’ But then I remember how much effort goes into my ‘finsta’ and know that there’s an element of fakery as you never get the full story.”
By Catriona Innes