In a world where social media often encourages us to present a carefully curated and idealized version of ourselves, the rise of BeReal has captured the attention of millions.
This French social media app offers a unique take on the traditional social media format, promoting authenticity and spontaneity over filters and editing. But can BeReal truly deliver on its promise of enabling us to “be real" on the internet? In this article, we delve deeper into the world of BeReal, exploring its unique features, its impact on social media culture, and questioning whether it truly offers a more authentic online experience.
First of all, the application was developed by Alexis Barreyat, who is a former GoPro employee, and Kevin Perreau. It has gained a massive following since its launch in 2020. The app became particularly popular among college students in early 2022, thanks to a paid ambassador program, and now boasts over 10 million active daily users.
BeReal stands out from other social media platforms by discouraging filtered and staged photos. Instead, its main feature is a daily notification that gives users a two-minute window to capture a "BeReal" — a real-time post consisting of two photos taken simultaneously from the front and back cameras. The app then prompts users to share what they are doing at that moment, giving their friends a glimpse into their daily lives.
The daily notification arrives at different times each day, keeping users on their toes. Once the notification is received, users cannot view the previous day's BeReals until they have uploaded their own.
Additionally, late posts are marked as such and show how long the poster was delayed. Users can also see how many attempts were made to capture the BeReal, and the location where it was taken. BeReal's 'Discovery' feature allows users to share their posts with a wider, public audience, but interaction through comments is not permitted. The app also limits users to one post at a time, giving each BeReal more value.
Part of BeReal's success can be attributed to the trend of “casual” posts on Instagram, which has been popularized by influencers like Emma Chamberlain and Matilda Djerf, despite Instagram’s perception as a highly curated social media platform where users often present an idealized version of themselves, featuring polished photos and carefully crafted captions, which contrast the purpose of BeReal.
People seem to be opting for more casual photos that capture the essence of their daily lives. Rather than sharing perfectly posed pictures, users are now sharing "photo dumps" — a collection of images that showcase everything from mundane errands to photos of their pets. This new trend highlights a shift towards authenticity and a desire to share more relatable moments with others. It reflects a growing desire among youth culture for authenticity and a rejection of the overly polished and curated images often found on traditional social media platforms. BeReal has capitalized on this trend by providing a space for users to share spontaneous, unedited moments without the pressure of presenting a perfectly curated image.
However, some people have questioned whether using BeReal truly results in more authentic content. It is possible that users may feel pressure to stage or manufacture their BeReals within the given short time frame, or may feel tempted to present a false image of themselves. While BeReal markets itself as a social media app that promotes authenticity, it is important to question whether this is truly possible on a platform that inherently promotes performance. Even when we think we are being "real" on social media, we are still performing for an audience, whether consciously or not. The act of sharing a moment with others, especially in a public forum, can never be fully divorced from the desire to be seen and validated by others.
This need for validation is not necessarily a negative thing. It can help us build strong relationships and develop a sense of self-worth. However, on social media, this desire can become distorted, as we begin to measure our self-worth in terms of likes, comments, and followers. We may begin to feel that our worth as a person is tied to our online presence, leading us to curate and edit our lives in order to present the most desirable version of ourselves to others. In this sense, even the act of being "real" on BeReal is performative in nature. While we may feel that we are breaking free from the curated images that dominate other social media platforms, we are still presenting a version of ourselves to the world. In this way, it is important to recognize that even if we believe we "don't care" anymore on social media, we are still participating in a larger performance that is ingrained in the fabric of these platforms.
In conclusion, BeReal has captured the attention of millions by offering a unique social media experience. However, the question remains: can we truly be "real" on the internet, especially on a platform that inherently promotes performance? As social media continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how platforms like BeReal impact our relationship with authenticity and validation online. Will we continue to seek validation through likes, comments, and followers, or will we actually shift towards a more genuine and unfiltered approach to social media? Only time will tell.