BeReal – not an “ordinary” social media app. Because the founders of the app do not want influencers, but realness and authenticity. That only works to a limited extent.
The BeReal app advertises with the slogan: “Your real friends”. But does it work?
I'm very bad at answering messages. It can happen that I don't answer my friends for days because sometimes I don't have the energy to check my DMs on WhatsApp and Instagram. I think I'm not alone with this feeling. The flood of notifications and messages that are displayed on our phones every day can be overwhelming.
“⚠️Time to BeReal⚠️”
When my phone shows this notification, it's been in my hand fast lately though. The reason? I need to share a photo with my friends. And right away.
This brings me to BeReal, an app from France that is currently climbing the ladder of the app store charts and, above all, keeps Generation Z on their toes. Once a day, all users of the app receive a push notification at the same moment. Now they have two minutes to capture themselves and their surroundings in this exact moment.
Another app that pushes interaction and use? From a private point of view I was skeptical, from a professional point of view my curiosity was aroused – after all, as a social media manager, I had to be up to date. However, when I received my first notification, shared my photo(s) and the snapshots of my friends appeared in the feed, I was hooked. There's something unifying about knowing that users around the world are getting the same notification right now. Everyone is feeling the same tense excitement right now, whipping out their phones and sharing the moment.
It's refreshing to see sleepy faces, messy apartments, and shaky photos of coffee cups rather than over-perfected photos. It's a reminder that there's a reality outside of the heavenly holiday snaps and flawless OOTDs (outfit of the day) on apps like Instagram.
But: With this radical authenticity comes pressure. It would be naïve to think that all users take completely spontaneous shots on the spot. Even a two-minute time limit can't eliminate the urge to show your best side. I've caught myself rushing to grab a book and clearing my field of vision – because the reality is I'm just lying in bed tired and there's nothing interesting to photograph. But who wants to see that? Authentic, but funny please. Authentic yet seemingly effortlessly beautiful. Authentic – please perfect-imperfect.
Perhaps this pressure is even more dangerous than being able to calmly think about which photos and moments from one's life one would like to share on Instagram – whether unembellished or perfected. Maybe people just tend to optimize themselves independently of apps. Even if it's the most perfect chaos possible. On Instagram we now know that we do not see reality. On BeReal, radical reality is just being fooled into our heads.
⚠️Time to BeReal⚠️. Another notification on my phone that might overwhelm me in the future as well. But right now I like to see what my friends are doing at the moment. I might be able to do that in the stories on Instagram too – but I see a different snapshot there than on BeReal, which appears in my feed with the latter without any filter. Curiosity pushes me to share a glimpse of my life on the app every day. Despite all the criticism, I'm having a lot of fun with BeReal. I feel connected to my friends when we share our everyday life and are not allowed to think too long about the optimal presentation.