BeReal, an app formed in 2020, brands itself as the social media that does what all other social media platforms fail to do, “be real.”
The app sends out a notification once a day at a random time alerting users to share a post in the next two minutes with both a front and back camera photo. If a user posts a picture more than two minutes after the alert is sent out, it lets their friends on the app know that they were late to post. Users can’t see their friends post until they post their own.
BeReal’s apparent authenticity has helped the app to grow in popularity extremely quickly throughout 2022, with now over 10 million active users. The platform is becoming known as the newest social media necessity.
SNL wrote a skit focused on the app, a video of Harry Styles taking a fan’s BeReal at one of his Madison Square Garden shows has gone viral, and other social media apps like Tik Tok and Instagram are playing the copycat game by adding features to their platform similar to those of BeReal.
There’s a touch of spontaneity to the app which seems to be giving hope to social media users that BeReal can break the pattern of over-edited, picked through, celebrity and influencer focused apps. Without these attributes, the app is perhaps better for users’ mental health than other platforms, as it aims to show that it’s okay that life isn’t exciting and adventurous at all times. BeReal definitely seems to be doing a better job than its competitors in this department. But, is it really possible for a social media platform to stay authentic and safe from the toxicity of the virtual world?
Even while BeReal seems to be doing everything right, there is no way to stop the inevitable. Social media norms have caused its users to compare themselves to the posts they see. People just aren’t used to being completely honest on their social media; we aren’t used to sharing our boring moments.
I downloaded BeReal last February. Over the summer, I watched my friends stop posting on time. If they weren’t vacationing in Europe, users of the app seemed uneager to share their casual summer moments at home. As soon as I returned to campus in September, the posts were, for the most part, on time again.
As BeReal’s popularity grows, so do the amount of people on the app you know. Friends lists on the app get longer and comfortability shrinks. It’s no surprise that photos on BeReal are posed, and other than your friends commenting that you are “being fake,” there is no punishment for posting late.
Even as BeReal markets itself as a platform to enjoy your friend’s photos without judgment, it seems that social media is an unstoppable source of insecurity. BeReal is a nice break from the curated feeds of Instagram and Tik Tok, but it’s not a replacement. Social media users aren’t going to delete Instagram for an app that they post on once a day at a time they don’t technically get to choose.
In some aspects, it seems that instead of replacing current toxic platforms, BeReal has added a new way to compare yourself to others. BeReal comes with a pressure to prove that your day is exciting at all times. But, if you happen to be doing nothing when the notification is sent out, don’t worry, you can just wait. You can just be fake.