Let's be real about BeReal
“2 minutes left to capture a BeReal and see what your friends are up to!”
These words have changed the world of social media.
Advertised as a platform that forces you to be authentic, everyone receives a notification randomly throughout the day, and users have two minutes to take a picture of whatever they’re doing. The craze has spread worldwide, in the country, and on our campus. The questions, “Want to be in my BeReal?” or “Can you take my BeReal” are a daily ritual. Unlike the meticulously crafted posts on Instagram or the latest TikTok dedicated to going viral, BeReal has no likes, profile posts or follower count.
So how does a budding social media platform compete with the likes of Instagram and Snapchat? Simple: peer pressure. Junior Mia Schlenker shares, “I got BeReal because it was a platform many of my friends were using.” Likewise, sophomore Wonjin Eum says, “At first, I didn’t get the purpose, but now everyone has it, so I might as well get it.” As senior Sydney Clymo aptly summarizes, “It’s popular right now. Everyone has it right now, and it’s popping off.”
But asking an entire demographic of teenagers to “Be Real” every day can be a daunting task. That’s why the app has structured features that make authenticity viable. Schlenker expands on the effect of these features: “I like that it kind of makes you authentic even when you don’t want to be. It has features that show how many attempts you took, or how long after the deadline you took it.” When the notification comes, you have two minutes to take a picture of what you’re doing at the exact moment. If done right, it should be an opportunity to give an honest glimpse of everyday life. Eum concludes on the app’s influence, saying, “It’s relatively more real because you have to post something to see other people post. You can’t search for someone up, whereas on Instagram, you can do whatever you want whenever you want.
Senior Curtis Da Silva rejects the app’s mission, stating, “I don’t think it’s making social media real again. You’re in the middle of class, and you don’t really want to take it because it’s boring. So I wait until you can take a fun BeReal with your friends.”
Taking a BeReal is almost a sacred experience. A race against the clock to include the most people or take the funniest selfie. You could trick your teachers into taking your BeReal or even ask strangers. Schlenker shares, “I take it whenever I see the notification. I would use the selfie camera first and then just whatever is in front of me. I don’t retake it unless there’s something outstanding that can’t be posted.” Senior Michaela Miller says, “It depends on the day. Sometimes I’ll take it right when it comes out, but usually, I’ll wait til’ I’m with my friends to take our BeReals, so not during class.” Eum has a clear objective: “I try to make BeReals funny. The idea of taking a picture with two cameras is really unique, so I try to use that as much as possible.”
However, waiting until you’re doing something interesting or ‘posting late’ is always an option. Senior Claudia Cool honestly shares, “If people actually do it when the notification goes off, then yes. But most people wait. I wait.” Clymo adds, “Almost everyone waits. Sometimes I don’t see it.” Da Silva adds, “Sometimes I’m not really in the mood to take it because what’s the point of posting if I don’t want to? I kind of just post when I want to.”
What kind of social media platform doesn’t have a feed? Scrolling through your BeReal feed differs drastically from looking at the curated squares of Instagram. Firstly, all ‘BeReals’ disappear after the release of the next notification, so there’s no way to stalk anyone. Secondly, most users only have their friends as followers, so it isn’t the tiresome chore of scrolling through photos of people you don’t know. Schlenker expands on this idea: “It’s more intimate and personal. I think on other social media platforms, people try to present a version of themselves with a couple of altercations here and there to conform to whatever version of themselves they want to outwardly display. BeReal is different because you only have your friends. You also don’t know when the timer will go off, so you can’t plan on doing something or looking a certain way.” Clymo supports this, saying: “I don’t have as many people on BeReal. I have people I actually know. On Instagram, I have a bunch of random people that I know of.” Cool supports this by highlighting BeReal’sexcusliveness: “It’s filtered in a way. Instagram is a bunch of acquaintances, and BeReal is people I know.”
Eum offers a contrasting opinion, saying, “I don’t really like looking at my feed. If I want to look for my friend’s post, I can’t search for them so I have to scroll down and look for it which is inconvenient.”
Scrolling through your BeReal feed can be a calming experience. Unlike TikTok, where your For You Page is filled with people from all over the world vying to be the funniest, start the latest trend, or dance slightly off-beat, BeReal is a real look at everyday life. Schlenker praises the authenticity of her feed: “I’m seeing a lot of people on campus and at school. It’s a very relatable app because you can see that people are up to orthodox things. Going to school, having regular interactions. It’s a more positive experience than other social media.” Cool echoes a similar sentiment: “People are doing homework. Homework. School. Friends. Food. Basic stuff.”
Besides seeing what your friends are doing every day, BeReal stores all the times you’ve taken a BeReal in the Memories section, something only you can see. Organized in a calendar format, you can reflect on all the times you studied for a failed test or ate uncooked rice with your field hockey team. When asked to look through her memories, Miller shares, “There’s a lot out with friends, at the grocery store, studying. There’s one with my dog or at the beach.” Clymo notices that “It’s usually with someone else. Most of them are selfies at volleyball.” Da Silva adds, “Most of my BeReals are taken with family, friends, or anyone I enjoy spending time with. It’s a lot of good memories to look back on.”
The BeReal craze highlights just how consuming social media can be and how the pressure to look a certain way, have a certain feed, or write a certain caption has altered how we view sharing our lives. We have contrived an artificial way to be authentic, with varying degrees of success. Whether you take it as soon as the notification comes out or wait till you’re with friends, BeReal markets itself as a chance to embrace authenticity. Seeing your friends do homework, attend class, or practice becomes comforting. The banality of everyday life, without the glamour, shouldn’t be revolutionary. Maybe BeReal is a fleeting moment, a blip in our technological landscape. Maybe it’ll reach a billion downloads. For now, let’s enjoy the beauty of normalcy. So smile and take your picture—you only have two minutes left.