The French social media app, BeReal, took the world by storm shortly after its 2020 launch. The app’s tagline, “Your friends for real,” was inspired by Founder Alexis Barreyat’s mission to solve the problem of influencers’ lives not being as glamorous or accessible as portrayed online. BeReal especially gained traction on college campuses after ambassadors were paid to promote it. The app has since become another social media fad, influencing trends across other platforms.

BeReal is Real:

Of course, she didn’t get her lips done. They just doubled in size because she’s “living her best life.”

When scrolling through any social media app, we are consistently hit with a barrage of unrealistic lifestyles as well as photoshopped faces and bodies.  Even though it’s obvious that most posts aren’t completely natural, the amazing lighting and stunning locales cloud our judgment. Idealistic social media accounts embody an ideal: attainable perfection. 

No matter how many conversations we have with friends breaking down how toxic and fake social media is, hopping on and off apps like Instagram leaves our generation with mounting insecurity and anxiety. Off social media, it’s easy to glance around at our own worlds and find them not up to par with their competition. 

This is why BeReal has been such a breath of fresh air for many of its users. The app forces people to scrap the incredibly refined posts that they would traditionally upload and instead showcase their authentic lives. 

At a random time every day, all of BeReal’s users get a notification announcing that “It’s time to BeReal,” giving them two minutes to post a glimpse of their day. By utilizing front and back cameras, these posts capture what both the user and their surroundings look like at that given moment. The app’s intention is to make it almost impossible for users to curate the perfect selfie or scramble to do something interesting upon hearing its chime notification.

Sure, it could be argued that when BeReal’s users eventually game the system and learn to apply Facetune and filters to their posts while still claiming that they are “being real,” it would be just as devastating to our generation’s self-esteem as aesthetic-focused apps like Instagram. However, this continual strive for flawlessness in the age of social media isn’t caused by BeReal. It’s fueled by other digital platforms that have conditioned people to feel as if their regular lives aren’t special enough to showcase.  

BeReal is directly opposing this distressing phenomenon. The app was uniquely created to counter our collective insecurities, allowing users to be their authentic selves online in a safe space of their choosing. Challenging the status quo of what lifestyles are considered attractive or realistic, BeReal’s disruption to the flow of typical social media spaces should be celebrated. Years of conditioning from other social media apps on how to perfect our lives can’t be overcome quickly. It’s important that users use BeReal the way it was intended or just accept that it will succumb to other apps’ aestheticism. 

Though it is not certain how the community on BeReal will shift in the coming months, hopefully, it will be able to bring about a paradigm shift in how we engage with social media going forward: emphasizing genuineness over feigned perfection.

You are not BeingReal:

BeReal’s intent was for users to show their friends an unfiltered version of themselves, but that message has been dissolved by pretense, compilation trends and the inherent nature of having to snap a picture of yourself every day. The app is not much different from the story functions on Snapchat or Instagram, except users become even more constantly aware of how they might be perceived and whether their life is worth sharing, moment-by-moment.

BeReal has morphed into a competition of which friend can have the most impressive BeReal, with users often timing it with planned events such as concerts, group outings or any other event that likely does not occur every day. For example, think about how many Emory students waited until Jack Harlow came on stage to snap a BeReal at Homecoming. The app has tried to combat this by randomizing the timing of alerts and denoting how many retakes a user has, but people are constantly inventing new loopholes to get around these mechanisms.

BeReal is a vehicle for inauthenticity hiding behind a facade of candidness. It advertises itself as a place where, unlike other social media, our guards can be let down. But the reality is that it exploits users’ need for external validation just like any other social media platform. Thus, the widespread success of BeReal indicates an underlying and persistent problem— fabricating moments to appeal to others —which is especially prevalent among college-age students. Users get bored of taking the same picture of their beds, pets or daily coffee, so it makes sense why many people delay their BeReals in order to present a more entertaining version of their lives. 

As with any social media platform, BeReal negatively affects users by distorting reality. Users may fall into the trap of craving extrinsic validation for even the most basic aspects of their lives. On the other hand, it can provide a space where people can share a more unfiltered version of themselves — a rarity in today’s extensively manufactured digital world. If BeReal is truly as dedicated to authenticity as it claims, the app should at least forbid users from posting outside of the designated two minute window.

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The Editorial Board is the official voice of the Emory Wheel and is editorially separate from the Wheel's board of editors.