Words by Carmen Macri
Once a day at random, I receive the notification “Time to BeReal: 2 min left to capture a BeReal and see what your friends are up to.” No matter where I am or what I am doing, I have to take two photos simultaneously; one is a selfie and the other is whatever is in front of me. The only way to enter the app is to post photos and there’s only one post per day. There is no mindless scrolling on BeReal. Why? Because it’s boring as hell.
Swiping through my friends’ posts I am met with selfies overlapping steering wheels, laptop screens and bedroom walls. Very seldom is the notification sent out at a time when anyone is doing something worth posting, but that’s the fun of it. We so desperately want the notification to go off when we are out at a bar or a concert, maybe even the beach. The odds of that happening are slim unless you ignore the notification and post later in the day—which will notify your friends that you have “posted a late BeReal.”
There is almost a sense of nostalgia with it too. Bringing Millennials and Gen Z alike back to the days when social media was boring. When Instagram was used casually rather than posed and edited. BeReal is the one and only social media that does not allow its users to spend hours a day scrolling, losing complete track of time. One post a day? Unheard of in this climate of the internet.
Having to post the photos in real-time and being unable to upload from your camera roll completely removes all inauthenticity that is the norm for every other platform. Photos cannot be Facetuned. There are no beauty filters. It is real-time and real-life. There is no glamour on the app to make your life seem more interesting than it is, which is an immense problem on social media today.
According to a study by Middle Georgia State University on the negative effect social media has on individuals who actively use it, there is a clear correlation between social media use and increased anxiety, stress, depression, body image issues and loneliness in young adults. Social media has become a drug for people. Checking Snapchat, continuously refreshing the page to see if anyone has posted a story. The same goes for Instagram.
Social media has become a double-edged sword. What was once used as a way to keep up with friends has turned into an addictive, mind-numbing “hobby.” Skimming through the FYP (for you page) on TikTok for extended periods of time can lead to problems with attention, concentration and short-term memory. I fall victim to all of the above.
It’s impossible and not entirely desirable to be “real” on any other social media. The simplification of BeReal’s success is that it will not make anyone famous. There is no want to present yourself as anything other than that—yourself. You cannot become an influencer like on TikTok or Instagram. There is no hierarchy. Just friends posting boring photos. A true throwback to the early 2000s. There is no room to overshare or create a permanent record of an alternate self. All posts disappear by the time the next BeReal notification hits our screens.
Now we wait to see if other social media powerhouses adapt to BeReals’ allure. Only time will tell, perhaps only two minutes.