New social media app promotes authentic sharing

Sean Speidel | The Chronicle 

No filters. No influencers. No like-button.

At a random time every day, BeReal users are notified that it is “Time to BeReal.” They then have two minutes to take a picture with both their front and back camera of whatever they are doing at the time they are notified. Though the concept itself is seemingly not very difficult or exceptional, the app has become increasingly popular, with students school-wide downloading the newest social media fad.

Sophomore Sophie Dodd has had BeReal since February and has slowly watched the app grow in popularity. Dodd said that BeReal has become a fun part of her daily routine and another way that she can interact with her friends.

“I like how everyone gets the notification at the same time,” Dodd said. “It’s just fun to see what all your friends are doing.”

BeReal markets itself as “not another social network,” according to the Apple App Store. Unlike other popular social media apps such as Instagram, BeReal does not have a like button. Rather, it utilizes “RealMojis” in which users can react to a post with a selfie. Bereal also elected not to include any camera filters, differing from apps such as Snapchat, where filters can be utilized to entirely reconstruct a person’s appearance. 

The app is intended to set itself apart from other social media platforms by detaching aesthetic pressure from the idea of a post and displaying what other people’s actual lives look like. Junior Ethan Nyhuis said that he likes the authentic nature of the app and thinks that it is a breath of fresh air compared to other social media apps.

“Instagram puts pressure on you and others, it only shows the good portions of people’s lives and it makes some people think that others are perfect,” Nyhuis said. “[BeReal is] an app that relieves you of that pressure so that you feel better about yourself and don’t compare yourself as much to others.”

While many follow thousands of accounts on apps such as Instagram or Twitter, BeReal users often follow only a select few of their peers. Dodd said that she likes the tight-knit atmosphere of BeReal and that her feed accumulates a feeling of friendship and community far more than her other social media does.

“It’s fun because it’s only your friends and not random people that you follow, like on Instagram,” Dodd said. “It’s only people you accept.”

Part of what makes BeReal so unique is the restriction instituted by the daily two-minute window that everyone has to take their photos. Without this punctuality, BeReal broadcasts a user’s tardiness through a notification to all of their friends. Some, like Dodd, take the two minutes very seriously and do not want to be flagged as late. She said that she always attempts to post on time and that she finds it fun to sort of drop everything and post when the notification comes through.

“It’s kind of like a panic,” Dodd said. “It’s really stressful sometimes, but in a good way.”

Others may not prioritize posting as soon as they get the notification and like to avoid the stress. Nyhuis said that he often misses the posting window, but will post whenever he can. He said that he does not mind his post being labeled as late and likes being able to see what his friends are up to.

“I’m usually at lacrosse practice when it happens, so I’m always posting late,” Nyhuis said. “I think of [BeReal] as more of a fun thing, so I don’t really feel too much of an obligation to [post].”

Nyhuis also appreciates the community of authenticity that BeReal promotes, allowing him and others to feel comfortable in what they are posting without it being staged or posed.

“You might want to make [your picture] perfect at first, but then you see that everyone else is being themselves,” Nyhuis said.

Graphics by Alisha Verma