Let’s BeReal: What you see on social media isn’t always legit. But that’s what one social media app is trying change. Meet, BeReal. The app was founded in France in 2020, with the mission of promoting authenticity online. It only requires users to take and share one IRL photo a day. Since January, its user-base has grown by 315%. And its become very popular among Gen Z and millennials.
But, what’s all the fuss about? If airbrushed photos, unrealistic beauty standards, and manufactured content are today’s trends — how does BeReal fit in?
How does BeReal work?
Once a day, every user gets a notification at a random time (it changes each day). Giving them a two-minute window to post a photo. Plot twist: the app captures images using both your front and back cameras simultaneously. So your friends get the full picture of what you’re doing at that particular moment.
Whether you're in the middle of your eight-step skincare routine...or on a luxurious international vacation. Once you share your photo, you can see your friends’ posts too. As well as where they’re located on the app’s built-in map.
The caveats: Retakes are allowed. And you can still post if you miss the notification. But in both instances, your friends will see that the image was retaken or posted late.
The idea is to be casual and authentic. Because you only have two minutes to take your pic and post it. Meaning: Not much time to think through what you’re snapping. The app’s website puts it best: BeReal gives you “a new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.”
It’s a huge departure from today’s trendy social media trifecta of Insta, TikTok, and Snapchat — which rely on likes, followers, filters, and ads. Given this stark contrast to the norm, people are wondering…
Why is BeReal so popular?
The app’s popularity comes down to simplicity, connection, and authenticity. Clem Robineau, theSkimm’s deputy managing editor, has been using the app for a few months now. And said it’s been a great way to keep in touch with her friends from high school who live all around the world. Plus, it doesn’t take up too much time.
“The notifications help remind me to take a quick photo and post it. Even if I'm still in PJs or walking the dog — sometimes even during meetings. And honestly, I usually only do it because I want to see what my friends are up to,” Robineau said.
Kylie Tran, a medical student in Fort Worth, TX, agrees. Because, to BeHonest, posting on Instagram or TikTok can take time. You have to choose the right filter, come up with a clever caption, and post at the right time. But BeReal turns that idea on its head.
“People have described BeReal as the opposite of Instagram, in that it's less curated and more personable,” Tran said. “I personally don't post very much on Instagram because it takes a lot of work to make a post.”
While social media apps like Instagram are wildly popular, studies show they can also be harmful. And have been linked to mental health issues like social anxiety, depression, and body image concerns. Especially in teenage girls — facing the mounting pressure of looking perfect online. And with an endless feed of content, these apps encourage you to keep scrolling.
But with BeReal, you snap your pic. Catch up with your friends. And move on with your life. “I like that it's more geared towards everyday tasks and little things. BeReal is super easy. It's more of the day-to-day, genuine stuff,” Tran said. “I don't really have any dislikes.”
BeReal’s approach to social media is a major departure from competitors. By cutting out the noise of likes, filters, and endless streams of content. Users get back to the initial purpose of social media — which was to stay connected. Because less can be more.
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