real life

‘I have a fake Instagram. Here’s why you need one too.’

I'm what you might call a nosy nelly

A prying Patricia.

I like to know as much as I can. About everything. All the time.

I'm not the girl F. Scott Fitzgerald ever envisioned. You know the one I'm talking about? When he wrote about "foolish, unknowing girls" in The Great Gatsby?

Naivete has never been my specialty. I would have been the one keeping tabs, sniffing out leads for information and charming everyone I could in order to unravel the mystery that was Mr Jay Gatsby.

What I'm saying is, I don't like to be shocked by information. To be duped.

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So I do everything I can to prevent it from happening by keeping an eye on potential suitors, new work colleagues, distant family members and the odd person from high school who went off the grid when we graduated Year 12.

One particular pride point for me is my fake Instagram account – a burner account, if you will. It's not something I try to hide, either. It's fake, sure, but it's not a secret. I have no shame about it.

And I happen to be of the utmost belief that everyone (or at least, every woman) should have a fake Insta, too.


An example of a fake Instagram account. (No, it's not MY burner. What do you take me for?) Image: Supplied.

A burner account, ICYMI, is an anonymous social media account that people (me) use for online activities that they (me) don't want linked to their/my main account. It's the kind of account you create knowing you may just delete it at the drop of a hat. 

You probably think I am a little strange and I don't entirely disagree with you. 

But let me tell you why I have a burner and why I think other people should do the same.


In the digital era, a lot of the people we meet are online, or those we meet in real life typically become close to us online. It can be handy to know what their social habits are, but how do you investigate without looking like the total creep that you are definitely being?

You can't, so you have to use the resources available to you – and in my case, it always comes down to stalking perusing someone's Instagram page through an anonymous, 'untraceable' burner account.

And boy oh boy have I found out some information that would have my friends in stitches.

Let me give you one example — one that, had I not used my trusty fake Insta, could've been very embarrassing. 

A boy I'd met and liked, who had texted me and asked if we could begin 'casually dating' (I said yes... ugh), had mysteriously vanished from both my 'following' and 'followers' lists on Instagram. When I asked about it, he feigned ignorance.

"Maybe Instagram just hates me lol," he wrote.

I refrained from typing back a snarky response about how I hated him, too. 

Instead, I played along and (using my burner) took a trip to his ex-girlfriend's Instagram page (which I found... using my burner).

Turns out they were interstate together, visiting his parents. 

Caught. Red-handed. 

I'd saved myself at least a few months of wasted time, blocked him and moved on. Imagine how much of my life I might have given to someone who could be so dishonest and lack so much integrity.


A similar situation happened to a friend, and I discovered that her partner — with whom she had been in a relationship for two months — was on holiday with someone else.

In a perfect world, people wouldn't lie. Honesty wouldn't come at the cost of my sanity. I wouldn't feel the need to dig through profiles online to find evidence I wasn't insane in these circumstances; to show myself that it wasn't me who had changed, but someone else.

These are just two of dozens of examples I've run into. 

The thing is though, I'm not the only one who has a fake Instagram account. 

Celebs are notorious for having fake Instas (though their reasons might be... a little different to mine).

Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars) has a private, 'anonymous' Instagram account where she posts photos of her dogs. Kourtney Kardashian once conspired with her sister Kim to think of usernames for a secret Instagram account during an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians

Singer Demi Lovato actually had one as well, before the username was leaked online and as a result, immediately deleted. 

In fact, one study from the United States found that 36 per cent of of people had or would have a fake Instagram account and at least half of them admitted they'd made a secondary account on social media so they could remain anonymous from friends or family.

The point is, that there are plenty of people all around the globe who use social media 'secretly' — on accounts where they can't be duped or have things hidden from them (as might be the case on a main Instagram account... after all, you can hide stories from certain users or block them).  


And the thing is, fake Instas aren't always for seeking out potential love rats. Not in my case, anyway.

I was thinking about an old friend I'd had a falling out with years ago, but harboured no resentment towards recently. So I jumped on my burner account and found out that she was engaged — and my heart swelled with happiness for her.

Who says having a fake Instagram account can't spark joy, or a sense of contentment?

I won't pretend the reasons that fuel me to stay logged into my secret IG account are all pure. Wanting to know if people are telling the truth or not, based on my experiences in the past, isn't exactly... healthy. 

But we live in this world where social media documents the life of nearly every single person we know. Is it a crime that I use the (albeit limited) knowledge I have about the tech world to dig a little deeper for the truth?

You can tell me I'm wrong for having a burner account. Or stupid.

But you definitely cannot call me naïve – because I know all too well what people get up to when they think certain people aren't watching.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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