FANGLE magazine is an Ohio University student publication that strives to approach stories with a unique, off-beat angle. I have written multiple online articles for FANGLE, along with an article in FANGLE’s Fall 2018 print magazine. Below are some of my selected works from the magazine.
Finstas: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Ever since Instagram added the feature for users to toggle between multiple accounts, finstas and spam accounts have been on the rise.
Short for “fake Instagram”, finsta accounts are usually private, exclusive accounts that a user has in addition to their “rinsta”, or real Instagram. A 2018 article by Joanne Orlando of The Conversation says that teenagers use finsta accounts for one of three reasons: for their real friends, to enjoy private interests or to boost their popularity. Some users will also create their spam accounts to showcase their art or photography.
When teenagers create finsta accounts for their friends, the main purpose is to share posts that aren’t deemed “good enough” for their rinstas. Orlando said “Growing up in the social media era, [teenagers] are acutely aware of the pressures on them to create and maintain the picture-perfect online profile.”
In this case, the FOMO feelings are completely real. Teens feel like if they aren’t posting smiling, beautiful pictures on their Instagram all the time, they aren’t as happy or popular as their peers. Finstas thus serve as an outlet for teens to post their not-so-perfect pictures. Here, teenagers don’t need to be happy and smiling all the time.
The phenomenon of finstas is particularly new in the realm of social media. In a 2018 article from the Columbia Daily Spectator, author Francesca Ely-Spence, said that “social media platforms are not typically seen as places of authenticity and vulnerability”. However, this is exactly what finstas aim to be. By keeping spam accounts private, users feel like they can be more honest about their thoughts and feelings on social media by only allowing close friends to see these personal posts.
In this regard, finsta accounts sound like a good idea. Teenagers can use their finstas as an outlet for their negative emotions and stress. This is an especially useful tool for high school and college students. As Ely-Spence described it, finstas function as “DIY therapy.” When students cannot get an appointment with a therapist at their school, or the competing pressures of college seem too much, a finsta account makes for a good place for students to rant about their struggles to a trusted group.
However, there can be danger in these accounts. When teenagers only use these accounts to talk about the bad, the accounts can become an echo chamber, Ely-Spence said. Friends constantly offer words of support on users’ rants, which can lead to the reinforcement of toxic or unhealthy behavior. Or, users will turn to their finstas to reaffirm that their actions are rational, thus making them feel more secure with their own choices. The echo chamber can then eventually lead to the defeat of one of finstas original purposes: advice or guidance in the place of other mental health services.
Security, as with most aspects of the Internet, also becomes a crucial concern for finsta accounts. Orlando said that finsta posts can still be exposed through screenshots, even if the account is private. Bullying, posts about illegal activities and drama can all be harbored on finsta accounts, the article also said. Just because finstas give off the appearance of being more confidential and secretive doesn’t always mean they’ll live up to this expectation.
Throughout college, and life, there’s bound to be moments where the world seems like a bit too much. Having an outlet for these emotions can be a great thing, but like any other form of social media, finstas can have their downsides. A couple of rants online never hurt anyone or their mental health. Just make sure you know when to disconnect and talk it out with someone face-to-face.
Get Your PawPaws on This 20-Year Tradition
September ushers in the beginning of the school year for students around the country. But, for those in the southeastern Ohio area, September also means driving down to the picturesque Lake Snowden for the annual Pawpaw Festival.
Hailing from the state of Ohio, a pawpaw is a “mango [meeting] banana… with a little hint of melon,” as described by NPR journalist Allison Aubrey. The fruit has a speckled, green skin and is orange-yellow on the inside. Pawpaws have been around for about 30,000 years in North America, but Americans seldom know about the fruit.
This is precisely why Chris Chmiel founded the Pawpaw Festival.
“The festival was my idea, and it came from the idea of celebrating and educating the public about pawpaws,” Chmiel said. “I think festivals are great ways to do both of these things.”
Chmiel is a frequent attendee of plant festivals. After attending festivals for mainstream crops such as apples and pumpkins, Chmiel decided that a Pawpaw festival could help raise awareness for a more obscure fruit. From here, the process took off running.
I worked with the Village of Albany by asking them to adopt the pawpaw as their official village tree,” Chmiel said. “I then worked with the Albany Business and Community Development Committee to organize the first pawpaw festival back in 1999.”
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Pawpaw Festival. While the festival had a massive turnout with almost 10,000 people attending, according to Chmiel, it wasn’t always this large of an event.
“The first festival was on October 10, 1999, and it was on a Sunday. It rained all day, but several hundred people attended,” Chmiel said.
Now, the Pawpaw Festival is three days jam-packed with festivities, spanning from Friday evening to Sunday night.
This year the Pawpaw Festival was held Sept. 14-16.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Pawpaw Festival, the planning committee got started right away.
“We printed up a poster that had all the logos of past festivals. We also worked with the Village of Albany on putting up banners in the village [of Albany] for the festival.”
The Pawpaw Festival is about celebrating, but for the 20th anniversary, this word took on a whole new meaning.
“This year someone got married at the festival,” Chmiel explained. “That was definitely new.”
The Pawpaw Festival has brought people together in more ways than one. Lilah Gagne, a freshman strategic communications major at Ohio University, is an Athens local. Growing up in the area has allowed for Gagne
to experience the impact the Pawpaw Festival has on community members.
“I have been attending the Pawpaw Festival since I was in elementary school,” Gagne mentioned. “When I was a kid, my friends and I never actually listened to the music. We would run around the festival, shop and eat food. I think those were my favorite memories because the festival was truly our stomping ground.”
It’s not just locals who enjoy the festival either. Since Gagne is now a student at Ohio University, she has been able to share her love of the Pawpaw Festival with others from outside of southeastern Ohio.
“I was able to share the day with my learning community and then was able to retreat back to my local group,” Gagne said. “It’s always so fun to share these experiences with people who aren’t from around here and see them fall in love.”
A lot of planning goes into creating a festival so large. Chmiel said plans for the next Pawpaw Festival are already in the works.
“We have a great team of organizers, and we do an analysis that helps us try and improve the event,” Chmiel said. “We like to collaborate, and we are definitely trying to think big about the next 20 years at this point.”
The planning of the festival is largely done by the team, but the community is widely involved as well. Many local businesses set up stands or are involved in the preparation of the festival.
“Passion Works Studio was insane while preparing for the festival. We had decorations everywhere, products everywhere,” Gagne said. “Passion Works Studio decorated the festival, and I made some of the pawpaw necklaces and earrings they sold, which was cool.”
The 20th Pawpaw Festival drew in a massive crowd. Now, the next hurdle is deciding how to improve the festival in the future. Plans for future developments of the festival location, Albany, and the festival itself are heavily interrelated. Plans within the Lake Snowden area may directly impact the festival and how it expands.
“Lots of possibilities in this area,” Chmiel said. “We hope to work with Hocking College to help improve the infrastructure at Lake Snowden, so we can continue to grow the event.”
The Pawpaw Festival will return again next fall, and with it, an outpour of community members and OU students.
“I truly believe this festival brings the community together,” Gagne said.