BeReal—this year’s new social media sensation—is an app that prides itself on its authenticity over other social media platforms, and has quickly amassed over 10 million daily users. The concept is straightforward: At a randomized time each day, a notification is sent out, giving users two minutes to post a photo of what they are doing at that moment. While the app says there are only two minutes to post a BeReal, users may post at any time following this notification.
One of BeReal’s marketable strengths is the level of interconnectedness it provides for friends on the app. Users can see a snapshot of what their friends are doing during the day and interact easily through selfie reactions or comments.
BeReal’s short notification time frame allows users to treasure the simplicity and comfort of the mundane. Nowhere else would people post the unspoken elements of their day-to-day lives: Watching TV in bed, waiting at the doctor’s office, or sitting in class. BeReal also sets itself apart from other social media apps through the dual camera feature, which shows both the user and the user’s point of view. Many people, however, do not post on time, reducing the number of truly candid BeReals and straying from the app’s original goal.
Despite being 2022’s most popular app, BeReal has come under scrutiny for the falsehoods that it breeds. Many users bash the fact that BeReals can be posted at any point, even over a day after the notification has popped up. While the ability to fabricate reality is part of social media’s appeal, some have suggested penalties for those who do not post on time in accordance with the notification—such as not being able to see others’ posts.
Why post at work when you know you’re going to the beach later? What if you missed the BeReal when you were taking a nap? Might as well wait a few more hours until you’re at that party.
For many users, BeReal has become more of a production than a true display of reality. Late posting, however, has not interfered with the popularity of the app. This is because the success of BeReal doesn’t come from its simplicity or truthfulness, but from its flexibility and user compliance. The user pool would likely decline if BeReal cracked down by only letting users post within two minutes of receiving the daily notification. Its success relies on the ability to use the app just like any other social media platform: Performatively.
Despite its flexible user interface, BeReal’s key to success will also be its downfall. TikTok users have already begun to criticize the fact that BeReal enables its users to use the app dishonestly. The more friends users gain on the platform, the greater the demand for interesting BeReals, and the less likely posts reflect life accurately. As it becomes more popular to use the app to show off a highlight of the day rather than a dull moment, the further BeReal deviates from its original intention.
One thing is certain—BeReal is inviting users because of its consistency. The app provides a unique comfort: See a daily snapshot of your friends’ lives while recording one of your own to look back on. Because of its engaging premise, it will likely remain successful for a while longer. Still, it will inevitably die out when the next great social media app becomes popular, which will surely allow users to show off even more falsified highlights of their life. Maybe then social media users will start to be real.