In the world of social media, there’s always a new viral trend or app every time you open your phone. We all know someone that does TikTok dances for fun, or still makes whipped dalgona coffee. This summer a new app has arrived on the viral block and it has Gen Z kids learning to embrace the moment.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of Mateus Campos-Felipe via Unsplash
It’s that time of day: lunch. Your stomach is growling, so you whip up a BLT sandwich. Before you take that first bite, you insist on uploading a quick story of your lunch — a dutch-angeled photo with a witty caption. But have you ever thought about posting that same BLT sandwich with a couple of bites in it, on top of that, a disheveled selfie of you enjoying said sandwich instead? Sounds ridiculous, right? What if I told you that the hottest #1 social media app in the App Store aims to do just that?
Introducing BeReal — a new photo-sharing app that has risen through the ranks in the App Store this past summer and has surpassed its competition, Instagram and Facebook. It has rapidly become Gen Z’s new favorite app and many millennials are even joining in on the fun, too. BeReal is the brainchild of French entrepreneurs Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau and was initially released in mid-2020. The app’s popularity is largely due to a paid campus ambassador program and word of mouth via other social media platforms.
Photo: BeReal’s Memories and Posts
BeReal’s official website describes its approach as “A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.” To perfectly sum up the BeReal experience: users are randomly sent a push notification once a day, alerting them to ‘be real’ and are given only a two-minute timeframe to take a photo of whatever is in front of them — front and back facing cameras simultaneously. After their image is uploaded, users are then allowed to view their friends’ posts, which prevents lurking. It’s also worth mentioning that BeReal does not offer a “like” option. Instead, users react to posts with Realmojis — digital stickers with selfies that mimic popular emojis. The unspoken rule on the app is that everyone will not look their absolute best when they snap their daily BeReal, but that’s what makes it fun — candid, mundane, and relatable.
Nowadays, with algorithms to reel you back into scrolling endlessly for hours, BeReal stands out from the rest. Users dedicate no more than 10 minutes to the app each day. The app is just as real as its users and recognizes that there is no need to be filtered all the time. You can say the app is like a deconstruction and revitalization of your favorite popular social media apps.
Today, most of our online presence has been carefully crafted for our followers. No one really knows who anyone is on the internet because of filters that mask blemishes or photos that display unrealistic and edited body proportions. We’ve grown used to that ideal world of flawlessness, which places unrealistic expectations over our heads and the judgments we make. It’s created an unhealthy need to consistently post to feel validated, which in the long term can be detrimental to your mental health — especially for the younger crowd.
While BeReal almost challenges that unhealthy obsession and wants to bridge the way to unfiltered connections, no one knows what the future holds for the app. Based on its high ratings, reviews have leaned more positive, with minor critiques on the app’s features. “What I like about BeReal is that it captures a snapshot of my day-to-day life and tells a more authentic story of how I live,” says Tyler, 27, who has been using it since spring of this year. Most reviews share that same sentiment. However, for its downsides, one user highlighted, “What I don’t enjoy about it [BeReal] is that it tells you how many times you retake your picture, which is kind of embarrassing for me. Also, I wish I could retake my Realmojis. If I knew beforehand that I couldn’t change them, I would’ve taken better pictures for sure,” Gwen, 18, who recently started using it on her college campus. So far, Instagram and Snapchat have hopped on the bandwagon and tested their version of BeReal-esque filters for stories.
If you still can’t wrap your head around BeReal’s hype and refuse to fall into the convoluted rabbit hole of social media and the internet. You can think of it [BeReal] like this:
BeReal is Instagram’s hippie cousin who’s renting a cottage in Bolinas and doesn’t give two hoots about how many likes he receives on a picture of his fresh batch of kombucha. Essentially, he, as in the app, is authentic and seeks genuine connections in the age of social media, where connections are primarily based on how many likes/followers you can gain.
Fad or forever? You decide.