BeReal: Recapturing social media authenticity
The first two autocomplete suggestions I get when I search "social media is so…" on Google are "fake" and "toxic." Even though taking what comes after a Google search as a standard measure of the consensus on things isn't the most accurate form of generalising, talks of social media being fake are rarely ever contested.
With the recent surge of updates that almost every social media platform implemented, each app became all the more "TikTok-ised." This includes innumerable filters, features that tempt you to scroll one video after another, different react buttons, sponsored posts, etc. These features exist to work the reward centre in your brain. With every like you get, your body is made to release dopamine, which makes almost every single social media app a source of addiction as well as anxiety for the youth worldwide.
In this endless and vicious cycle of making your life appear good and watching others live "aesthetic" lives, BeReal promises to be a healthier version of photo-sharing. The app gives you a 2-minute window every day at random to post a picture of yourself with dual-cam from wherever you are and whatever you're doing. There's no explore page, no filters, and no likes or followers. The only way to react to your friends' pictures is by taking a picture of yourself and your reaction. Since the timer can come at any moment of the day, it lets you see people's lives as is, and not just the best parts that they would have otherwise posted on other social media apps.
BeReal aligns with the essence of "casual posting," which took off in mid-2020 when the out-of-touch hyper-curated aesthetics of performative Instagram started becoming tiring. Users would open a spam account just to post blurry pictures, bed selfies, memes, or screenshots of conversations with friends. However, without technological restrictions, people naturally gravitate towards trying to make their lives, and subsequently their feeds, look as appealing as possible.
With Bereal, you're restricted from polishing or modifying your pictures, and in a world where we're overwhelmed with options, less is more.
Another feature, or lack thereof, of BeReal that people seem to consciously appreciate is that there are no avenues to doom-scrolling. Your feed will only consist of posts from friends you accept, no more and no less, and the lack of suggested posts or ads is very relaxing after being inundated with content on other platforms. Moreover, the fact that you can only see other people's posts after you have uploaded your daily picture gives people an incentive to post as well.
To sum it up, Bereal is a much more refreshing version of social media than Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. There's less pressure to perform, less pressure to look good, and less temptation to mindlessly scroll. However, it is not an alternative to the other more mainstream and alluring apps we spend most of our time on. So, even though it increases net positive experience, do not expect it to undo any of the harms that we have already suffered from other social media behemoths.
Koushin Unber was raised by the internet and fed cookies exclusively. Remind her to touch grass at [email protected]