My Fake Instagram Account Changed My Life

The finsta isn't just a fad: it's my favorite way to say the things I can't say anywhere else.

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Low-quality screen grabs from Snapchat, shady posts about exes, images of Cher that perfectly describe my mood—these are just a few of the things I would never post on my public instagram account. I, like many others, have standards for what fits into my public Instagram feed, and these standards simply do not permit me to post a self-portrait immediately after I hit myself in the face with a medicine ball at the gym. I'm currently working on becoming a Serious Professional, and sharing a video of myself immersing my face in an entire cake and emerging with frosting up my nose doesn't really seem like the way to put my best foot forward in my search for gainful employment.

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Until I created my finsta, all of my social media was thoroughly public. My Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are all connected to my full name, and I try not to post anything that I wouldn't want to explain to my mother—because she follows all of them. And even when you have a cool mom like mine, sometimes you just want to post something she might not want to see, like a photo of Paris Hilton wearing a T-shirt that says "He wants to sleep with me" with arrows pointing in every direction, captioned "My 2017 vibe."

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The joy my friends got out of this post was *almost* worth the bloody nose.

I created my finsta on November 20, 2016. In the weeks beforehand, I'd become increasingly jealous of friends with finstas and their freedom to post whatever they wanted. I clicked the "add account" button and chose my new handle. In a reference to one of my favorite comics, John Mulaney, I settled on @on_fire_garbage_can. I kept with the theme for my bio, using one of my favorite quotes from Mulaney's New In Town special: "my vibe is more 'you could pour soup in my lap and I'd probably apologize to you.'"

On my public profile, I feel like I'm constantly inflating myself. It feels good to puncture my own image a bit.

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I quickly posted a few images to set the tone of the account, and followed some friends. I was ready to have an outlet that would reject all the rules of public social media and free me of my digital hang-ups.

In a lot of ways, my finsta does just that. I get an odd thrill out of posting photos where I look dumb, like the series of photos I posted in which I struggle to get my head through a turtleneck sweater. On my public profile, I feel like I'm constantly inflating myself. It feels good to puncture my own image a bit, especially when my audience consists of 65 people who I know and trust.

Rinstas are for good hair days; finstas are for all the rest.

On my finsta, I can be provocative and angry and stupid and reckless and lame, and I don't have to apologize to anyone about it. I can post a photo of me and my best friend, Aaron, shotgunning cans of cold brew coffee. There is nothing more anticlimactic and lame than shotgunning a non-carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage, but I can't change who I am.

My finsta receives increased positive engagement when I overshare personal information—particularly about my love life. My most liked post to date is a collage of two photos side by side. The photo on the left is a girl I don't know, wearing glasses and a jean jacket and smiling while licking an ice cream cone. The photo on the right is of me, wearing my own glasses and jean jacket, pretending to lick a conical, rolled up piece of beige paper.

One major perk to having a finsta is the ability to scream into the social media void when someone you used to date begins dating someone new.

We are posed the same, we have the same brown bob, and our glasses/denim combo causes us to look strikingly similar. "Who wore it better, me or J's new girlfriend who looks exactly like me????" my caption read. One major perk to having a finsta is the ability to scream into the social media void when someone you used to date begins dating someone new, who happens to look just like you.

Of course, my affection for @on_fire_garbage_can comes with some caveats. I do pander to my finsta audience. My recognition of the posts that do well comes with a tendency to post just that; my desire for the approval of my peers doesn't go away with a new handle and tighter privacy settings. I also recognize that my finsta allows me to be less controversial on my real account, and that in an ideal world, I wouldn't need a private, anonymous account to express myself. Maybe if I were a little more fearless, I would use my regular social media accounts to post whatever I wanted, giving all my vulnerability and sex-positivity to the world. Maybe someday I will.

Until then, my screen grabs from Tinder are for the eyes of my 65 followers only.

If you'd like to follow Abbey's finsta, well...that just might not happen. But best of luck!

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