To Be or not to BeReal

‘BeReal’, the newest social media app sweeping the globe, has captivated users with its aim of combatting curated posts online. But has it achieved what it set out to?

By now, you’ve probably heard of BeReal. It’s one of the newest social media apps on the market. And, unlike others, which all seem determined to become TikTok rip-offs, it’s actually pretty unique. BeReal works by sending you a notification at a random time of day, having only two minutes to post. The app takes a photo with your back and front camera to reveal what you’re doing and what you look like in this exact moment. The concept aims to fight back against the increasing ‘fakeness’ of apps like Instagram, where posts are curated and edited to perfection.

I’ll admit I was sceptical about BeReal at first. Did I really need another social media to keep on top of? But I caved to peer pressure and subsequently fell in love with the app, and I wasn’t alone. Downloads of the app have reportedly risen by 295% since the beginning of 2022.

So how exactly does BeReal keep us real? Well, if you post outside of the 2-minute timeframe, people will know about it. Your post will be labelled as late, which one reviewer described as the “mark of shame”. It’s a subtle way to let you know that a late poster probably wasn’t doing anything noteworthy when the notification came through. It reminds us that the average person with an average life is actually quite boring, and we really shouldn’t feel bad for not living life to the fullest on a random Thursday afternoon. BeReal seems to be working; in a survey run by Nowadays, 63% of people said that BeReal has positively influenced their attitude towards social media, with others noting that the app had stopped them from comparing their life to other people.

But it turns out that most people don’t like being real. In this same survey, 95% of people admitted posting a late BeReal and 55% said they did this most days. Participants stated that the main reason for this was because they simply don’t see the notification. As one participant resolutely told me, “contrary to popular belief teenagers don’t spend every waking moment on our phones!”. So maybe late BeReals are a good thing? People aren’t using their phone and are instead out enjoying life instead of obsessively documenting it.

Interestingly, 78% of people said that they would wait until they were doing something interesting to post a BeReal. Surely, this completely disregards the concept of the app. This isn’t ‘real’; it’s openly fake. Furthermore, 80% of people said they don’t care when others post late, calling into question the point of the app entirely. However, after chatting to friends, I came to an interesting conclusion: the app stores each of your posts in a calendar format, making it a great way to look back at what you were doing every day. Late posts mean you can capture the best memories. So, maybe not ‘being real’ has its positives too.

There’s no arguing that BeReal isn’t a unique and interesting concept, and it has people hooked. But how long will it last? A reviewer from the Insider said they’ll use it for “as long as it stays relevant”, an ironic statement when referring to an app designed to combat the superficiality of media trends. The answer could lie in its arguable antithesis: Instagram. As the social media Goliath continues to subject users to uncoordinated feeds and aesthetically traumatising updates, it pushes users towards BeReal’s simpler concept. We may currently be seeing a shift away from the perfectly curated, big business social media, and towards simpler, less pressurised content. But it remains to be seen if BeReal can truly stand the test of time.

‘BeReal’, the newest social media app sweeping the globe, has captivated users with its aim of combatting curated posts online. But has it achieved what it set out to?