Every couple of years, it seems like a new social media platform takes the world by storm. The early 2010s saw the rise of Snapchat and Instagram, and now you can hardly go a day without hearing about what’s happening on TikTok. Now, a new app called BeReal has entered the ring as a contender for the next best thing.
I first heard about BeReal a few weeks ago from my roommate, who said she had heard about it from her high school aged sister. The premise is that, every day, BeReal sends you a notification that it is time for your daily photo. Once you open the app after receiving the notification, you have two minutes to take a front and back camera photo. The catch? While taking these photos, you can’t see what the camera sees, which makes the photos completely spontaneous and oftentimes very, very goofy. After taking your daily photos, you can then scroll through and see what your friends are up to, as well as react and comment on their BeReal posts.
The thing that makes BeReal so loveable is the raw nature of the posts. It removes all filters, editing, and manipulation that is possible on other apps like Instagram. Yes, you can wait until you’re doing something fun to take the daily photos, but once the photo is taken it is out of your hands. Like Instagram or Snapchat, you have to be friends with someone on the app to see their posts, which discourages one account from amassing millions of followers for one-way interaction.
In a way, BeReal is a direct response to everything that makes current social media so artificial. It’s hard to imagine BeReal becoming a platform for “influencers,” mostly because of the limited and brief daily interaction that you have with the app. With one photo, it’s hard to advertise a product or take countless pictures for the perfect post.
Although a simple concept, I think that’s what makes BeReal so addictive. It allows for you to keep tabs on what your friends are up to, and it’s a great way to contextualize the FOMO that comes with having a typical social media platform. The daily nature of the posts allow for you to see your friends in bed after waking up from a nap, or hunkered down in the library studying; unglamourous things you would typically never see on Instagram or other photo sharing sites. Whereas social media sites such as TikTok, Instagram, and even Snapchat are viewed as “highlight reels,” BeReal is a sort of real reel.
Finally, BeReal is just plain fun. The app saves your posts in a “memories” section of the site, which allows you to go back and view your posts as a photo-diary by month. It’s fun to see your friends in their day to day life, and it’s fun to trade silly pictures with no strings attached. As the future of the most popular social networking sites has trended towards consumerism and advertising, BeReal feels like a step back into the good ol’ days, where social media was all about connecting with others.