How authentic is bereal, really?

the ‘anti-instagram’ photo-sharing app everybody is talking about

By Bella Hales

Friday, 26 of August 2022

Recently, it appears Instagram’s day of being ahead of the curve has approached its end. Celebrities like the Jenner/Kardashian clan have become increasingly publicly disinterested with the app as a result of its TikTok-esque changes, and it seems that social media has been calling for something innovative and fresh to change things up for a while.

BeReal, a photo-sharing app that has now famously been dubbed ‘anti-Instagram’, was created by French founders Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau and designed to encourage users to be their real selves.

Want to know how it works?

Once a day at any given time, users receive a ‘warning’ notification indicating that it is ‘time to BeReal’. A 2-minute window is then offered to take your photo, using both your rear and front camera. Once you’ve shared your snap-of-the-day, you are then allowed access to your newsfeed, displaying everything your friends are doing in that same timeframe. Users can add captions and interact with friends’ posts through comments and RealMojis (emojis in the form of a selfie). Your feed only updates itself once a day, with all uploads expiring when the next notification is sent out, and only you are allowed to look at your past posts – which is very resemblant of the ephemeral nature of Snapchat. 

The restraints of only being able to post once a day poses us with less reason to aimlessly scroll; you only need to check the app once or twice a day to stay updated which is undoubtedly a lot less time that avid social media users spend on the likes of Instagram and TikTok. Importantly, BeReal provides no filters, means of editing and notably, you cannot track metrics like followers and likes, thus removing the widely criticised social performance pressures that Instagram has been accused of catalysing. 

With this philosophy in mind, it is clear that BeReal has made a great attempt at filling the void between social media and authentic reality. 

But how authentic is it?

@bee.austin matty healy didnt kniw what a bereal was #mattyhealy #the1975 ♬ pass the dutchie sped up - vevonix

Whilst BeReal does provide guidelines on how to best utilise the app, these are very malleable. Despite the two-minute time frame, you can still post any time after the notification, with the only consequence being that your friends get a notification to say you posted late. As a result, users are able to wait until they are looking their best, or doing something they feel is more ‘fun’ or showcase worthy to their friends. Ultimately, this fluidity of the app’s rules, defeats its own mission to shun social performativity.

The emphasis on only being able to take unfiltered and untouched images of oneself is certainly one of the most true features to the app’s core vision, but it does come into paradox with itself when highlighting the fact that users can take unlimited retakes of their photos. Surely this encourages the same rose-tinted reality posed online that Instagram does?

Undoubtedly, BeReal has set a new precedent – a unique, new way of online photo-sharing. But as they have blurred their values with those of the more traditional apps, so have their users. BeReal snaps are now also making their way onto the mainstream channels, in an attempt from creators to cement their social status, centre-staging aspects of their ‘mundane’ livelihoods. 

Examples of this can be seen on influencer and celebrity channels including the likes of Chloe Frater and Tyler the Creator. These are just two of the famous figures including BeReals in their photo-dumps. Mashable’s Elena Cavender has seemingly rightedly coined that BeReals are the new selfie”. In her eyes, this makes the app “now just another way to commodify your life.” 

It’s not only Instagram that’s had BeReal creep into its feed, multiple TikTok users’ for-you-pages have been bombarded with young girls attempting to get celebrities to feature in their snaps, such as Bee Austin, posting her BeReal with the 1975’s Matt Healy which has garnered 546k views to date.

Despite the numerous arguments to be made against the platform, its fundamentals are in the right place and it is clear that the principle is founded upon good intention. Nonetheless, it has not yet achieved the ultimate goal of online authenticity and is still offering a social platform with the means to contrast and compare with peers. 

My takeaway from this: do I think that BeReal has been a positive force in social media? Yes (regardless of the ‘buts’). Will I keep using it? Absolutely.