BeReal or BeFake?

Is the New Social Media Sensation Less Authentic Than it Seems?

Gigi Appelbaum-Schwartz, Staff Writer

Gaining significant traction in early 2022, BeReal is an app that aims to branch away from the filters and photoshop of typical social media platforms, allowing for a more authentic depiction of everyday life. 

At a random time every day, BeReal notifies users to take a picture of whatever they are doing in a two-minute period, posting the pictures immediately after they are taken. Unique to BeReal is its use of the front and back cameras simultaneously, posting one photo through each lens. If users do not post within two minutes after the notification is sent, they are marked “late,” but their post is still visible to friends.

Sophomore Izzy Kocher said that she appreciates the non addictive nature of BeReal in comparison to other social media platforms. 

“I find it nice because I don’t spend as much time on BeReal scrolling through likes and things like I would on TikTok,” she said. “It’s more just a way to connect with friends and see what they’re up to.”

For the majority of high school students, social media plays a central role in their daily routines. Apps such as Instagram and TikTok give teenagers the ability to share and observe experiences with friends, while also offering them a glimpse into the lives of celebrities and influencers. 

Despite being one of the most common forms of communication among young adults, social media platforms place excessive pressure on users to appear a certain way online, resulting in insecurity among teens. According to The New York Times, the artificiality of apps like Instagram have a negative impact on students’ mental health, due to the strain that comes with comparing one’s life and physical appearance to others.

In a world where many teens spend hours a day scrolling through their TikTok “For You” pages and Instagram feeds, most users spend no more than two minutes on BeReal every day. This is in part due to the fact that photos can not be edited and users can only post at one designated time per day. True to its name, BeReal strives to avoid the unrealistic expectations brought on by other social media apps, by instead promoting authenticity and spontaneity. 

As stated in the app description, “BeReal won’t make you famous. If you want to become an influencer you can stay on TikTok and Instagram.”

Freshman Baran Nasiri echoed this sentiment, saying, “I feel like it’s not as fake as other social media because the pictures that you take don’t have any filters.” 

Although the unfiltered aspects of BeReal are praised by many, most teens manipulate the app to their own advantage, reverting back to the typical tendencies displayed on social media sites. These users ignore the two-minute time limit and wait to take their BeReal when they are doing something interesting that they consider post-worthy, a concept that goes against the fundamental idea of the app, Kocher explained. 

“At the beginning, I thought, ‘Wow! What a great way to de-stigmatize the “perfect” life on social media!’,” Kocher said. “But then I realized…it doesn’t really make a difference, because people just take it late, and it’s not a big deal.

“I know very few people who, if they have something going on [later], won’t wait ’til then to take their BeReal,” she added.

Nasiri agrees with Kocher, saying, “I usually don’t do it at a random moment. I wait until I’m with my friends or something during school… and then I take pictures of myself and my friends,” she said. 

As BeReal users continue to stray from the original intention of the app, this question remains: Does this concept have a negative impact on the app’s users, or is it still authentic enough to be considered different from other, more “toxic” apps?

Kocher said that, despite the slightly less genuine way people use the app, it is still a step in the right direction. 

“I feel like a way to make it better would be if you try to post too late then you just can’t post that day,” she said. “A lot of people just wait until they are doing something they actually enjoy and would look good on social media and make other people jealous. But, [BeReal] is definitely an improvement.”