Delete your account
I was on a date some years ago, and, while scrolling through my photo library to show her something on my phone, my worst nightmare happened.
“Is that me?!”
She spotted my screenshot of her Facebook photos, the ones I sent my friends when I told them about my plans.
I looked her in the eyes and told her:
“Yup. That’s you. I wanted to show off to my friend what a pretty date I have this weekend.”
Looking back at it, I don’t think I could have said anything better in the moment. I wasn’t trying to position it or be smooth or suave or apologetic. I was honest. I’ve learned over the years that in these social situations, with enough confidence and the right phrasing, honesty is the best route to win people over — dates, job interviews, new friends, what have you.
I’ll own the fact that I spent my 19th birthday completely alone after a long day of work, drinking whiskey by myself while softly crying to Drake, only to get up the next morning at 6 a.m. I’m not a completely open book, but I’ll give the people some excerpts and chapters for free.
I totally understand the point of fake Instagram, or “finsta,” accounts. By making a hidden, private profile and selecting a small group of close friends to follow, people feel free to embarrass themselves, trash their exes and vent about their lives without caring about social conventions like double-posting or human decency. It’s an act of rebellion. Instead of writing, taking multiple takes, editing, tuning and marketing ourselves, the finstas let us freestyle and jam without care for the final product.
I don’t reject the finsta as a response to the circumstances. I reject the circumstances themselves. I question that we feel compelled to do this in the first place. I’m pushing back on the idea that we need to fine-tune and face-tune our ways to show our friends our awesomeness.
There are three main issues I see with the thinking behind finstas. One is the notion that we can’t totally be honest when we present ourselves. Honesty isn’t just about the courage to put yourself out there, flaws and warts and all. It’s about the assurance that people will still like you (and your posts) regardless of whether your honest self is as dope as you think. And I’ve found that people really respect, appreciate and even admire that honesty. You’ll win over a lot more people from authenticity than you will from romanticizing yourself.
Another is that it shows that we care too much about likes on our actual Instagrams. I’m not saying likes are meaningless. You’re goddamn right the likes mean something. A like is a rush of dopamine. It’s a chicken nugget of attention. You’re allowed to like chicken nuggets. Healthy? No. Sustainable? Not at all. The only delicious food in the world? God no.
I care about getting likes on Instagram because I’m not an unfeeling sociopath, but it has to stay healthy. I see people with finstas and it makes me feel as if every real Instagram post is just for the likes. Rather it should be a mix of sharing your life with your friends in order to stay connected — a collection of little postcards you send yourself when you look back and reflect, and the sweet, delicious likes.
I take issue with having one account in which you’re only hitting home runs and one account where you get to practice and mess around. You’re not a professional sports player performing for the fans, you’re a normal human being with a social life. We all feel like we’re the protagonists of our own movies, so your movie would be much better if you stop going for the cheap gags and easy cliches.
And finally, it’s immoral.
I find mutual dislikes of other people one of the strongest bonds people make. Talking trash about people you can’t stand and making fun of your exes is petty, yes, but I think it’s human when kept within reason. That’s not the problem. I do all of that in my messages and groupchats with my friends.
It just feels different to me when those nastier things are kept in conversation, in which people are mean and then they move on to the next topic. It’s different when it’s kept on a virtual log, when it’s posted for perpetuity or when it’s not an ephemeral conversation topic anymore. Even though less than 20 people see it, it crosses the boundary of basic decency to that person, however awful they may be.
No one’s reading this piece and running out and deleting their secret accounts. I can name at least ten people who’ll screenshot this and destroy me in the caption on their accounts. The finsta won’t die. But I really hope that the rinsta (real Instagram) works on itself and starts doing yoga and eating healthier.
We’re not brands, we’re not celebrities, we’re not perfect people with perfect lives that look flawless from every angle. An ugly selfie here and there won’t drive away followers and slash your like count and mess up your ratio.
You don’t always have to be dope. Sometimes, being relatable is just as good.
Written by: Yinon Raviv, who’s tired of being made fun of on the internet by his exes — reach him at email@example.com