I was sitting at my college town’s Italian restaurant with some friends when a notification popped up on all of their phones. “Time to BeReal,” it said, as it prompted them to take a photo of their present state to post on the app. At first, I was confused. Why are they obeying some app when it asks them to abandon their good bite of chicken parmesan to photograph their lives within the next two minutes? Then, my friends broke it down for me: “BeReal is the new, trending social media app. People post their honest selves, and it’s so authentic!” A social media app? Authentic? You’ve got to be kidding me.
The app — founded in 2020 by Alexis Barreyat, a French entrepreneur— promises to show “your friends for real”. After sending users a notification to capture a photo within two minutes, it uses a special camera feature to take frontal and selfie photos at the same time. Once the photo posts, app users or chosen friends can comment, chat, and react with a RealMoji. After those two minutes, the users move on with their lives until a random time the next day when the notification appears again.
Through its promise of being the “simplest photo-sharing app” and showing “life without filters”, BeReal has risen to 10th on the charts for social networking apps and has a 4.9 rating. App Store reviewers are raving about it, with one noting that “THIS APP BREAKS BARRIERS!” It’s clearly doing something right.
There’s a catch, though. BeReal claims to be “not another social network”. But it really is just another social network. BeReal might not have filters or FaceTune, but it’s still phony. Users can retake their BeReal post as many times within the two minutes, allowing them to pose or fix up their appearance. I’ve often heard my friends say “Get in my BeReal photo! I want to look like I’m doing something interesting.” It doesn’t brand it on the surface, but the app also lets its users choose anytime during the day to start their two minutes. Are users really being real if they can wait until the most photogenic, appealing part of their day to take a photo? Letting users choose the time they want to take the photo is nothing but fake.
As a society, we’re so far deep down the toxic rabbit hole of social media that we don’t know how to be real. For so many people, especially young girls, we are wired to curate our images on social media. We are so used to editing and exaggerating to promote the best version of our lives on Instagram, Snapchat, and every other platform. One social media app isn’t going to change that.
If we are trying to be real, then why even turn to a social media app? Why not focus on real relationships instead of those on your phone? If you are truly living in the moment and being authentic, then there is no need to prove it to others. Social media is not, and will never be, the space for realness. Put your effort into real life, not something trying to emulate it.