Is Being Real Enough?

by Daniela Olazabal, Co-Op

If you keep up with social media and online trends, then you’ve probably heard of BeReal. Once a day, at a random and unexpected time, users of the app receive a notification prompting them to “BeReal”. This means that users have two minutes to capture whatever they’re doing right at that moment. The app takes a picture with both the front and rear-facing cameras, sharing both photos simultaneously in a blended image. Users can then add a caption to their BeReal, however the image disappears as soon as the next day’s BeReal goes live. To add another element to thing, users won’t be able to see their friends’ BeReals until they have posted their own.

Created in 2020 by French CEO Alexis Barreyat, the app has now climbed to #1 in the U.S App Store and become incredibly popular – especially with Millennials and Gen Z. In a LinkedIn post announcing its official launch, Barreyat wrote: “After being tired and annoyed with all the bullshit on social media, I decided to launch my own. No likes, No followers, No ads, No filters, just what my Friends are doing, in the most authentic way possible.”

          By using this system, BeReal successfully creates a social media platform without the stresses of posing and lighting or a constant worry over your engagement. A quick scroll through my BeReal feed reveals my friends working from home, watching a Netflix show, or stuck in traffic. No posed couple pictures or fancy avocado toasts or exotic beach vacations. And at first, this is extremely refreshing; it’s fun to know what my friends’ work-from-home set-up looks like or what they are currently binge-watching. It’s quite the cure for FOMO* and it relieves the pressures of impressing followers – especially during this time when social media has become a warped content-sharing void, where nothing is real and fights ensue over seemingly anything and everything. The New York Times said it best: “Given the constancy of disaster around us, and the ways we yell about it online, we may want to attend to moments of normality. Even boring ones. Even what someone else had for lunch. Which is, half the time, what we talk to our actual loved ones about anyway, when we are out there really being real”.

          BeReal’s major flaw is the reality that most people aren’t too interesting on a weekday afternoon. Most of us get the BeReal notification when we’re busy at work or relaxing at home, where all we can capture is our daily routine. On the rare occasion when you do get a notification while you’re out and about, it’s very easy to miss it until you’re back home. This means most of the content you’ll see on BeReal is incredibly mundane. After a while, you realize that everyone’s lives (including your own) are quite repetitive. Although BeReal has succeeded in creating a social media experience that is unlike any other, it fails to entertain in the long run. Sometimes all you want to do after a long day is forget the mundanity of life. BeReal is, undoubtedly, a great idea, but the traits that make the app refreshing might also be threatening the app’s longevity. My personal favorite part about this is that there are no ads, no brands getting involved, just people living life. While I doubt that the app will be culturally relevant in a year’s time, it is nice to BeReal for a change.

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