BeReal is the false heir to social media and laid-back authenticity

Olivia Shu/Daily Nexus

Scrolling Instagram is, in some ways, a mind-numbing field study in human artifice. Over the past decade, the perfect photo has disguised itself as authenticity. Instagram’s “everyday life” demands nothing less than a still image of the pre-planned, pre-posed, and pre-purified. It wasn’t until the COVID-19 lockdown siphoned off the glamor of the ideal life by reinstating a brand of ‘accidental beauty’ and casual photos that ‘authenticity’ won its rightful place in the world of social media. . In other words, the personal brand is dead. And the age of “casual authenticity” has risen.

It’s there that Be real is coming: a social media app new it’s surprisingly anti-Instagram. Founded in 2020 by French developers Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau, BeReal promises a “chance to show your friends who you really are, for once”, as stated in the official the description. The algorithm is simple: once a day, BeReal sends out a randomly timed notification, alerting users to capture a front and back photo of their life in two minutes. Photos taken after this time can still be posted, but are flagged as late. You can retake your photo as many times as you want, but your friends will know. And only after posting your picture will you be allowed to view your friends’ posts and leave a “RealMoji:” selfie reaction to your friends’ BeReal posts.

The application particularly targets students, according to NPR. There is a ambassador program with the aim of “creating a university presence that embodies our brand”. I first downloaded the app in June 2022 after many of my friends praised its merits. “Oh, it’s not like Instagram. It’s a lot more laid back and fun,” my friends told me. With serious appeal, they added, “It’s also authentic. I caved. Just two months, I promised myself.

BeReal has redefined gamification in social media. A little like Snapchat Series, BeReal is proud of the two-minute photo timer. Right from the start, when the push notification popped up on my phone exclaiming it was time to be real, I rushed to my room in confusion, hesitating between having to pose or be candid before taking a picture. . Sometimes I waited for the perfect moment, hours after the two-minute countdown, when I was out with friends or doing something interesting to capture my BeReal – a solemn call that I’m not boring after everything.

Should we take BeReal as it is: a place to be real? After all, the app has made a name for itself as the moral opposite of Instagram. BeReal is, quite rightly, not like Instagram. In July, the Senate Commerce Committee approved two bills: the Children and Young Persons Online Privacy Protection Act and the Child Online Safety Act. Before the Senate Commerce Committee last fall, Facebook’s whistleblower Frances Haugen presented internal documents showing Facebook knew Instagram could be addictive and increase rates of eating disorders and depression in children and teens. Surprisingly, BeReal has something in common with other notable social media platforms. Among its 11 official “WARNING” chips descriptive, “BeReal may be addictive.” I salute the honesty of the application, but BeReal unwittingly pleaded guilty.

Despite this, BeReal is certainly a departure from Instagram. Yet not far from the “fake Instagram” or “finsta” movement – a trend in which young users reserve an extra Instagram account for a limited and close group of friends – NPR praises BeReal as “Instagnext ram rival for teens.” A Article from Teen Vogue writes how the app gives users the ability to “let the world know who you really are” without fluff or filters. Skepticism about the app has seeped into recent media after RE Hawley questioned BeReal’s praise for its authenticity in the new yorker in May. According to Hawley, what differentiates BeReal from other social media giants “is not the former’s relationship to the truth, but the size and scope of its deceptions.”

Online authenticity is not so much the truth, but a kind of performance. On some occasions, ironically, I found myself in front of the camera, faced with the urge to contort my face into a smile in the middle of an insensitive book or to appear graceful before a grapefruit as if seducing the fruit. In both scenarios, I am bound by a performance that never ends, in which I am both the actor and the cursed director.

In both scenarios, I am bound by a performance that never ends, in which I am both the actor and the cursed director.

In front of a camera, users are required to perform. The deception lies in the framework we show to the public. The problem is that these intentional moments – parties, concerts and outings – are simply framed as everyday life. To be twisted in this deception is to face online inauthenticity all over again. And again, I ask myself: “What’s the point?”

Un défilement rapide à travers la page publique “Découverte” de l’application BeReal, semblable à la page “Explore”[surInstagramestlerêved’unanthropologueUnephotod’unefenêtreàrideauxdansuncoindelapièceUnautred’unchienflouÉmissiondetélévisionactuelleSortieamicaleAlimentsLalistecontinueAvecchaquephotovientunvisagequim’estaussifamilierquelespersonnagesanonymesdemesrêvesLatotalitédetoutcelamejettedansunevaguedepaniquemaisneparvientpasàmefairesentircommeilfautPeut-êtrequesijepassaisdevantunefouledegensdansunerueaniméeetqu’unephotoBeRealsingulièreapparaissaitau-dessusdechacunedestêtesdepiétons-unhologrammedeleursvieslointaines-jemerappelleraisàquelpointl’humanitéestdevenueorganiquementennuyeuseUnevienumériquetellementdéforméeenbanalitéet«authenticitéoccasionnelle»cettedernièren’beingnotsoanoxymorethananimpossiblegamecharade[pageinInstagramisananthropologist’sdreamAphotoofacurtainedwindowononecorneroftheroomAnotherofablurreddogCurrentTVshowFriendlyoutingFoodThelistgoesonWitheachphotocomesafaceasfamiliartomeastheunnamedcharactersinmydreamsThetotalityofitallthrowsmeintoawaveofpanicyetfailstobringmetoaproperfeelingofsonderPerhapsifIweretopassbyacrowdofpeopleonabusystreetandasingularBeRealphotosprungupaboveeachofthepedestrian’sheads—ahologramoftheirdistantlives—IwouldberemindedofhoworganicallyboringhumanityhasbecomeAdigitallifesowarpedintobanalityand“casualauthenticity”thelatternotsomuchanoxymoronasitisanimpossiblecharadegame[surInstagramestlerêved’unanthropologueUnephotod’unefenêtreàrideauxdansuncoindelapièceUnautred’unchienflouÉmissiondetélévisionactuelleSortieamicaleAlimentsLalistecontinueAvecchaquephotovientunvisagequim’estaussifamilierquelespersonnagesanonymesdemesrêvesLatotalitédetoutcelamejettedansunevaguedepaniquemaisneparvientpasàmefairesentircommeilfautPeut-êtrequesijepassaisdevantunefouledegensdansunerueaniméeetqu’unephotoBeRealsingulièreapparaissaitau-dessusdechacunedestêtesdepiétons-unhologrammedeleursvieslointaines-jemerappelleraisàquelpointl’humanitéestdevenueorganiquementennuyeuseUnevienumériquetellementdéforméeenbanalitéet«authenticitéoccasionnelle»cettedernièren’étantpastantunoxymorequ’unjeudecharadeimpossible[pageinInstagramisananthropologist’sdreamAphotoofacurtainedwindowononecorneroftheroomAnotherofablurreddogCurrentTVshowFriendlyoutingFoodThelistgoesonWitheachphotocomesafaceasfamiliartomeastheunnamedcharactersinmydreamsThetotalityofitallthrowsmeintoawaveofpanicyetfailstobringmetoaproperfeelingofsonderPerhapsifIweretopassbyacrowdofpeopleonabusystreetandasingularBeRealphotosprungupaboveeachofthepedestrian’sheads—ahologramoftheirdistantlives—IwouldberemindedofhoworganicallyboringhumanityhasbecomeAdigitallifesowarpedintobanalityand“casualauthenticity”thelatternotsomuchanoxymoronasitisanimpossiblecharadegame

Melody thinks reality is no different from fantasy in BeReal. What are “BeReal” and “social media” if not a simple paradox?

Melody Chen

Melody Chen is an opinion writer and a major in psychological and brain sciences. When she’s not looking for inspiration, she can be found doing yoga and cackling in the latest stand-up comedy.

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