The “BeReal” app implores users to be genuine. Can it stand the test of time?

Your friends “for real” is the app’s promise.
Once a day, you’ll get a notification giving you two minutes to “be real” and take a picture of what you’re doing. The other day, a girl had to “be real” at her grandfather’s funeral. She later shared the experience on TikTok.

It also gives you a chance to see what your friends are up to, and only once you’ve posted your own candid photo can you unlock theirs. To some degree, this takes away at least some of the pressure to stage or organize your life online.

There are also other obstacles designed to maximize the possibility of authenticity on the app.
You’re advised not to retake a photo – and if you do, it shares with your friends how many painstaking attempts it took. If you take an image late, it is labeled accordingly.
The shot captures an image from both the front and rear camera so you can see what’s in frame as well as what’s behind the camera.
There are no likes, no profiles, no number of followers and certainly no filters on BeReal.
The app also relies on the unspoken shame of being the user who takes the “relaxed” platform too seriously.

Posting five hours late while you’re doing something fun would be an atrocity, for example.

BeReal: currently one of the most downloaded apps in Australia

Despite – or because of – the stark differences between BeReal and other social media, the app has become increasingly popular. Currently, the France-founded platform, which launched in 2019, is the most downloaded app on Apple’s Australian App Store.
For 25-year-old student Emma Hilton, the app validates life’s lulls and large chunks of time spent performing tedious but normal tasks.

“A lot of times I’m just in bed whenever it sounds, and I guess that’s half the beauty,” Emma said. The flow.

A collage of a girl eating a sandwich, a girl in a ball gown, a girl in bed.

Emma Hilton has been using “BeReal” for a month and says the “low-stakes” app gives her authentic insight into the lives of her friends. Credit: Provided

“You spend all day doing really fun things and being outside and then you lay down to scroll on TikTok and that’s when it kicks in,” she added with a laugh.

Emma, ​​who has been using the app for about a month, admits to delaying occasional snaps, especially times that correspond to bathroom visits.
“I’m sure the few people I have would really appreciate it if I wasn’t real right now,” she said.

“Once in a while, if I’ve been in bed too much, I’ll wait to cook dinner but it’s never something too interesting.”

Her intimacy is part of Emma’s charm. On the application, there is only her and a dozen close friends. She thinks that’s why it works.
Instagram posts are truly the highlights of your life. And it’s so contrived however you use it because you want people to have a certain perception of you,” she said. “I love how mundane it is. . [BeReal] is.”
The lack of endless scrolling is also a selling point.

“It’s low effort and takes up a very small part of my brain and my day. You dive in and out,” Emma said.

Can it stand the test of time?

Tama Leaver, an internet studies professor at Curtin University in Perth who studies social media, is a firm miscreant. I said the premise and novelty of the app would not last.

“Authenticity is the big myth of social media, nothing on social media is authentic,” Leaver said. The flow.

“Social media is framed and performative, it just does it in a different way.”
Jo Price, who has been on the app for a bit longer than Emma joined in April, said she strayed from the app’s original mission statement.
“I don’t use it very authentically and will postpone adding a photo until something interesting happens,” the 37-year-old said. The flow in a message.

“I appreciate that people are treating it more like a daily photo challenge, because it would be very boring to watch it any other way.”

What does human nature tell us?

Ash King, a psychologist and researcher with the Cyberpsychology Research Group at the University of Sydney, said that although the app is making clear efforts to achieve its goal, it is still a platform for social media where users only reveal what they want others to see.
She said the ability to accumulate followers means that users will consciously or unconsciously begin to organize what they post.

“The app can’t do much about that – we’re social creatures designed to seek status and community. And even with restrictions, we’ll likely find a way to seek status and community in the way that we show up,” Ms King said in a statement to The flow.

On Twitter, a BeReal user announced the sentiment: “Have you ever seen the BeReal notification and ignored it because it’s overwhelming?”
There is a silver lining, Ms King adds.

“But one of the results of the app is that it could get people thinking about how they spend their time… If you’re concerned about the substance of your BeReal ‘memories’, it may -be a call to reassess the way you’d prefer your life to look?

Refreshing…for now

Mr Leaver said most other established social media platforms are “starting to feel bloated”, as they pinch each other and try to compete with other offerings. I said that the simplicity of BeReal is, for now, refreshing.
For now, he says the app doesn’t pose more privacy or security concerns than others, and said users are savvy enough to know the risks of disclosing where they are at any given time.
But one of the big “ifs” that could determine his longevity is how he plans to make money. Mr. Leaver suspects he is following the common business model of attracting users before monetizing the platform with advertisements.

“The only way to continue to be relevant is to slowly build the kind of tools that all other platforms have,” he said.

A collage of a man looking at his coffee, a man looking at his drink.  A photo of an Instagram page.

Tim Hill on BeReal and Instagram. Credit: Provided

Tim Hill, a user of the app since June and founder of the social media analytics app, said founders need to be comfortable not being number one if they want to stay true to their cause. . Otherwise, it will wander into its competitors’ space and lose its main message.

“They have to be content in the niche and know that they’re never going to be a mass-adopted app. I think that’s probably a path to really solid usage and a way to not piss people off over time. “

The stream sought comment from BeReal.