To be or not to BeReal

A deep dive into the “real” of BeReal.

BeReal: the latest and hottest app on the market. Known for its unfiltered posts, BeReal sends out a notification a day, letting everyone know that it is time to take a photo within the span of two minutes. With the goal of being an authentic social media, BeReal seems to be the next step towards creating a healthier online culture. But just how “real” is BeReal? And what is authentic social media?  

  Before diving into BeReal, we need to understand the problem. It is no secret that we Gen Z-ers are addicted to our screens, and it’s deteriorating our mental health. It has never been so easy to not only display our lives to an audience, but also fake success. We can now carefully curate our image online, and embellish every picture we take to create a false life. This creates a distorted standard for all social media users. Apps such as Instagram are accredited to creating a fear of falling short of social-media worthiness. Thousands of teenagers become unhappy with their own lives simply because other’s lives look better on their screens.

In recent years there have been numerous movements promoting a more honest approach to posting on social media. There is a want and need among social media users for a better platform; and that is where BeReal comes in.  

  Originally released in 2020, the French app garnered popularity during 2022. The main idea of BeReal is that everyone simultaneously gets a notification, every day at a different time, and once the notification is sent out everyone has two minutes to take a picture and post it. There are no filters, and you take both a front and back picture. Of course, late posts are allowed, meaning some people wait to take their BeReal for when they’re doing something interesting, whether that’s a Harry Styles concert or a tea party. This again allows people to craft their lives online, leading to a culture of only highlights and comparisons. This begs the question; If people still have the option to be “fake”, doesn’t that defeat the whole point of BeReal? When asked about BeReal, freshman Eric Stephens Wakefield said that while he enjoys the app, “the one thing I think about BeReal is that there is often pressure because the whole thing is “this is what you’re REALLY doing”, but I don’t think anyone sees the BeReal [notification] and thinks ‘oh cool let’s take a picture of my couch’… they think ‘let’s find the coolest way of displaying what I’m doing right now’ … I think that if you accept that BeReal isn’t the most real then it’s fine.” BeReal’s whole point is defeated by pressure upheld by other social media. It’s an online culture we cannot seem to get rid of, and it shows through even on the most “real” of apps. 

Ultimately, it’s not up to the platform to create a “realistic” posting culture, it’s up to its users. Social media is inherently inauthentic: It’s designed to show the highlights of our life, and we want people to see our good moments. BeReal is just another app. While it doesn’t present the opportunity for filters, or as much freedom with posting; this isn’t groundbreaking for social media standards. It’s just fun.