By Igor Stepczynski | Broadcast Reporter
“Speak it into existence.” Not only is this a quirky thing college students like to say, but it is a powerful tool in understanding the potential of the human brain. Simply speaking good things about ourselves will increase cognitive agility, regardless of the validity behind those statements.
Unfortunately, this power can be just as easily misused when speaking negatively about ourselves. If tweeting, snapping or instagramming are other forms of communication, then is it possible that we can post things into existence?
Finstas, or fake Instagrams, are a type of Instagram profile rising among college students. These profiles are usually cleverly disguised private accounts in which the user allows only a small number of followers to view it. These followers are usually only close relationships in one’s peer group. The purpose of a fake Instagram is to communicate a more imperfect side of the user’s life, keeping an honest and personal touch with your followers on a mainstream social media platform.
As a college student who follows my friends’ secret profiles, I remember finstas first served as an escape from the repercussions of posting about drinking, drug use, vulgar language or gossip. The posts on these accounts were usually comedic in nature if you knew the user personally. Recently, however, I’ve noticed these accounts going through a dark turn.
A social media path that trailblazed as an escape from the overly polished world of Instagram has now become a dark hole for many users. Instead of posting about crazy experiences from a party, users have more often than ever started posting about their depressive symptoms and the negative perception about themselves.
Psychology Today defines neuro-linguistic programming as “a set of language and sensory-based interventions and behavior-modification techniques intended to help improve the client’s self-awareness, confidence, communication skills and social actions.” The reason as to why human language is so complex is because it labels a plethora of physical and mental sensations. Our human relationship to language strongly impacts the way our brains function. If we say good things about ourselves, our brain is wired to perform better. If we say degrading things about ourselves, our brain is wired to validate those things internally.
So what does this have to do with finstas? If your finsta posts often include degrading statements about yourself or any pessimistic predictions regarding your life, chances are that you are posting it into existence. Although it may feel good to unload any stress you may have online, the power behind self-fulfilling prophecies expands to all forms of communication, not just speech. Posting “ugh, I am fat and ugly” has the same effect on your brain as looking into the mirror and seriously saying, “You are fat and ugly.”
Having that said, these accounts can serve us well if properly used. What finstas do well is offer a very personal analysis of unfiltered thoughts in a chronological order. As long as it is used safely and securely, finstas may actually encourage users to take steps toward a better mental health.
If you notice a consistent pattern of self-degradation on a friend’s finsta posts recently, take the time to check up on that friend in person. Express your observations and concern for their mental health. Not only will this indicate your true best interest in them as a friend, it may open the doors to honest discussion and self-analysis.
If your finsta posts have been consistently self-degrading, consider taking a cleanse from Instagram. Write down your feelings on paper and think about why you are having them. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, whether it is from a friend or licensed professional.
Remember it will always serve your brain better to be overly optimistic. That doesn’t mean you should numb yourself to negative feelings. It means remembering you have everything you need to resolve them and turn them into a helpful lesson for your future.