The prevalence of private Instagrams, or “finstagrams,” is on the rise. But, the question remains whether or not this platform transformation is detrimental or beneficial to those who use and follow them.
Launched in 2010, Instagram has now essentially become a household name. According to TechCrunch, in June 2016, Instagram has 500 million monthly users. Data from Science Daily shows that more than 90% of users are below the age of 35.
Connection between younger individuals has definitively shifted to online media platforms. “92% of teens report going online daily – including 24% who say they go online ‘almost constantly’” according to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center. This shift is increasingly apparent on high school campuses such as MC. During a passing period, it would not be unlikely for an observer to witness a majority of students with eyes glued to their cellphones or a cellphone in arm’s reach.
Teens practically carry two lives with them. Therefore, it is not surprising to find there is a growing trend for teens to create two accounts – one curated for the public and one for a handful of their close friends to see. This concept, however, is no new thing. We saw this same phenomenon back in 2003 in the age of MySpace, where individuals would pose as different versions of themselves online.
From my personal observation as a 17-year-old Instagram user of five years, private instagrams have been a recent addition in the last two years to the culture created by the app. The content of such private accounts range from rant-type descriptions with generic photos to inside jokes, to broadcasting successes and failures, to everything in between.
In contrast, a “main” account has been relegated to serve as a maintenance of public appearance. To put it bluntly, it’s the bragging account. The discussion of whether a photo is “main-worthy” has become a term exclusive to this age of technology. “Main-worthy” is a term describing a photo with enough “aesthetic” to be shown to the public (outside of a close circle of friends).
In one of my own experiences, I posted a photo on my account that featured a picture I enjoyed of Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio embracing each other after DiCaprio’s Oscar win. The subsequent comments asked why this was on my “main” account and suggested I made a private account to share these photos instead. This incident highlights the stark contrast of photos shared on the two distinct accounts: private and main, where private photos are ones to be shared to friends, and public photos are ones resembling a glossy photo scrapbook of life’s “coolest moments.”
There’s a splitting of self that comes along with the creation of two accounts, where a person’s best parts are conglomerated into one main account and the other parts of one’s life are shoved aside onto a private account. This calls into question how social media skews reality. The quest for likes and public approval only grows.
I understand that we as teens utilize social media to stay connected. It’s a platform for self-expression and for the sharing of memories, but there’s a darker side to it. Make whatever accounts you’d like, but rethink the reason why you’re doing it: for your own self-perception or an outside perception of yourself.