Hello, my name is (not) Larry.
I must admit, my name is not Larry.
The other day I used the phrase “This is the pseudonym generation” when describing my generation, the sort of post-millennial pre-iPhone zombie gen. This, like almost every phrase ever that ends in “generation”, is mostly bullshit but has a strange way of making even the dumbest person sound kind of smart. That was exactly what I was going for, as I used it while partaking in my, unfortunately common, practice of pretending to be smarter and more thoughtful than I am. A practice that I fear this essay only further perpetuates.
Of course, we aren’t actually the pseudonym generation, we are the Finsta generation.
A Finsta, for those who do not know (my mother and whoever she might be sharing this blog with), is short for fake Instagram, which is short for the practice of creating an Instagram that is tangentially or unofficially ones own. It might be a place where someone posts memes, or less curated content, or ugly selfies. Some Finsta’s have themes like “@JakeBirosBicepts, a page dedicated to this one buff dude from Long Island’s Muscles. This practice, importantly, sounds both absurd and oddly on-brand.
Very few fake Instagrams are actually anonymous. If someone was seeking for true anonymity, they would never sincerely look to social media for answers. Fake Instagrams are “kind of” anonymous. To anyone who thinks that is stupid, you just haven’t thought about it enough.
The Finsta is genius. Its like partially reusable Starbucks cups, or underwater trash cans, or hybrid cars. They are universally agreed upon as good, except by people who do not actually understand them. (This analogy breaks down when you imagine someone not understanding what a partially recycled Starbucks cup is). You see, the most profound thing about the Finsta is that people consistently report being able to post their “real” content.
By constructing an online persona that is purposefully, and fundamentally fake, people find it easier to be real. Go figure. (This is my green highlighted line, if your not hooked by now I guess you can stop reading.)
This proves at least one thing to me: Everyone knows, on some level, that social media is stupid. The fact that we acknowledge completely fake Instagrams as a reasonable practice means we also acknowledge that having a sincerely sincere and straightforward online presence is absurd. Its absurd, but we all at least pretend to have one. Which makes me wonder which Instagram is more fake, @JakeBiro or @JakeBirosBicepts.
Anyway, to Deltron:
Deltron 3030 is a rap superhero persona created by Bay Area rapper Del the Funky Homosapien for the 2000 album Deltron 3030. The album plays like a sci-fi novel, with intergalactic (rap) battles and moments of levity and artistic devices that blend the line between a mid 3000s dystopia and early 2000s Oakland. When Deltron 3030 came out there were no illusions about it being a Del the Funky Homosapien work (which really is just another level of the pseudo name). But the partially fictionalized device, even when it was clearly fake, allowed Del to be more real.
It’s the year, thirty… thirty
And here at the Corporate Institutional
Bank of Time
We find ourselves reflecting
That, in fact
We came back
We were always coming back
Deltron 3030 ranks at the top of my list of amazing artistic works that employ pseudonyms.
- Deltron 3030 (Del the Funky Homosapien (Teren Delvon Jones))
- Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
- @Guwop (????)
The list of famous works of art that play around with identiy is more expansive than you might think. MF Doom, Banksy, Jk Rowling, Raul Duke, Dr. Seuss, Mrs. Silence Dogood (look this one up), Steven Colbert (in a sense) just break the surface. There are probably lots of reasons why artists employ pusdonames, but I think the most common one was to remove, or reposition, the artist from the art. When we see an artist play around with this, often its easy to see what their going for, perspective, pov, commentary, whatever. I guess my point is, its no different when employed to our personal brands.
I’ve never had a fake Instagram, and I think that is a bit of a character flaw. I have a real (or at least ostensibly real) Instrgram that I begrudgingly post to, all the while getting a very real and scary dopamine rush from breaking 100 likes. Periodically I will delete the app off my phone and feel better than everyone else before re-adding it because I missed dank meme’s and dopamine too much. The whole performance of Instagram makes me deeply upset, or about as upset as an Iphone app can make someone, yet I see real value in the type of creative expression Instagram could have. So on paper it seems like I am the perfect person for a Finsta.
I’m not though, because Finstas have become fake-fake. At one point, its possible that Finsta’s were the type of fake-real metaxy I was talking about earlier, but now they are just fake-fake, or real-real, or corny. See below:
Finsta’s cool factor, and by extension, their “legitimate-expression-of-self” quotient is entirely dependent on the reasons for making Finsta, which is entirely dependent on how many other people have already made Finstas. I’m not reinventing the wheel here, cool things are cool because other people don’t have them.
The Finsta is a bit different though because the inflection point where they became mainstream, is also the same point they became insincere, and I’m arguing that a pure Finsta is genius because it is entirely sincere. This is a much larger inflection point than say, finding joggers at Urban Outfitters. Unfortunately, we missed the boat on Finsta’s. If I made one now, it would be because they are cool, which is one of the least cool things you can do. Finsta’s are no longer a funny and witty departure from one’s brand, they are the brand. Even if my motives are pure, It’s still not cool. We all wish we had a good Finsta, as much as we hate bad Finsta’s.
The same irony that birthed fake Instagrams is beginning to swallow them back up.
This brings me to maybe the reason you’re here, certainly the reason I’m here, to explain this blog. The long answer is that this kind of in between anonymity is powerful. Its always been powerful but it is especially powerful right now, where people flock toward internet fame, simultaneously aware that they are icarus and convinced their wings are made of metal. We all want to be our strait forward selves on the internet, but we’ve all decided its not cool, at least right now. So I made this medium page, maybe its a “Mock-ium” page where I am going to try to write and post content as much as I possibly can. You might know who I am, you might kinda know who I am, you might have no idea. Thats what I’m going for. The short answer is that I missed out on the Finsta craze because I was too ironic and now wish I had a do-over.
So Sincerely, Larry 3030