World · August 4, 2022

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

Your friends “for real” is the promise of the app.
Once a day, you are pinged with a notification giving you two minutes to “be real” and take a picture of what you are doing. The other day a girl was supposed 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 after posting your candid photo can you unlock theirs. To some extent, it stifles at least some of the pressure to stage or heal your life online.

There are also other obstacles designed to maximize the chance of authenticity on the app.
We recommend that you do not take a photo again, and if you do, share with your friends how many careful attempts it took. If you take a delayed image, it is tagged accordingly.
The shot captures an image from both the front and rear cameras so you can see what’s in the frame and what’s behind the camera.
There are no likes, no profiles, no follower counts and definitely 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 out doing something fun would be an atrocity, for example.

BeReal: Currently one of the most downloaded apps in Australia

Despite – or because of – the strong differences between BeReal and other social media, the app has become increasingly popular. Currently, the French platform, 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 breaks and large chunks of time spent doing boring but normal tasks.

“Often I’m alone in bed every time she goes out, and I guess that helped her beauty,” said Emma. The feed.

A collage of a girl eating a sandwich, a girl in a prom dress, a girl in bed.

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

“You spend the whole day doing really fun things and being outside, then you lie down to scroll on TikTok and that’s when it shuts down,” he added, laughing.

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

“Sometimes, if I’ve been in bed too long, I wait to make dinner, but it’s never too interesting.”

Her intimacy is part of Emma’s charm. Only her and about 10 close friends are on the app. She believes that’s why it works.
Instagram posts are the highlights of your life. And it’s so contrived no matter how 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 infinite scrolling is also a strong point.

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

Can it stand the test of time?

Tama Leaver, a professor of internet studies at Curtin University in Perth, who does research on social media, is a firm disbeliever. You said the premise and the novelty of the app won’t last.

“Authenticity is the great social media myth, nothing on social media is authentic,” said Leaver The feed.

“Social media are framed and performing, this does it in a different way”.
Jo Price, who has been on the app a little longer than Emma, ​​joined in April, said she walked away from the app’s initial mission statement.
“I don’t use it very authentically and will postpone adding a photo until something interesting happens,” said the 37-year-old. The feed in a message.

“I appreciate that people treat it more like a photo challenge a day because it would be very boring to watch otherwise.”

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 makes clear efforts to achieve its goal, it is still a social media platform where users only reveal that. that they want others to see.
He said the ability to accumulate followers means users will consciously or subconsciously start curating what they are posting.

“There isn’t much the app can do about it: we are social creatures built to seek status and community. And even with the restrictions, we will likely find a way to seek status and community in the ways we present ourselves, ”Ms. King said in a statement to The feed.

On Twitter, a BeReal user foreshadowed the sentiment: “Do you ever see the BeReal notification and ignore it because it’s overwhelming?”
There’s a silver lining, Ms. King adds.

“But one result of the app is that it may prompt people to consider how they are spending their time … If you are concerned about the substance of your BeReal ‘Memories’, perhaps it is an invitation to reevaluate how you would like your life to prefer. you 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. He said BeReal’s simplicity is, for now, refreshing.
At the moment, he says the app doesn’t pose any more privacy or security concerns than others, and said users were savvy enough to know the risks of revealing where they are at any given time.
But one of the big “ifs” that could determine its longevity is how it plans to make money. Mr. Leaver suspects he is following the common business model of attracting users before monetizing the platform with ads.

“The only way it will continue to be relevant is to slowly build the kind of tools that every other platform has,” 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: supplies.

Tim Hill, an app user since June and founder of professional social media analytics apps, said founders need to feel comfortable not being number one if they are to stay true to his cause. Otherwise, he will wander into the space of his competitors and lose his core message.

“They need to be satisfied in the niche and know they will never be a mass adopted app. I think it’s probably a path to really solid usage and a way to not piss people off over time.”

The feed searched for comments from BeReal.