I cannot think of a single person who does not have some form of social media. Whether this be Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, VSCO, Discord, what have you, everyone is connected through an online platform to their peers. Ten years ago, curating pictures and profiles was a new concept, but now, being “real” and authentic is the new trend. For the older generation, being authentic was inevitable, but for us, the curation of our online personas is more important than authenticity. BeReal creates an environment for constant authenticity and a desire to share everything, at the expense of our individuality.
Constantly having to consider, reevaluate, and criticize our online presence is exhausting, hence why BeReal has become virally popular. It presents a break from the norm: authenticity in its “purest” form. You have to post at the same time as everyone else, no matter what you are doing. You don’t have time to curate your activity, you just have to take a picture when, and where the app demands you to.
BeReal is understandably appealing. On the outside, it seems to be positive, a platform in which people share their everyday moments, instead of highlights. You never can guess when BeReal might go off. The element of surprise creates authenticity. If you post late, you are not actually “being real,” and everyone else knows that you posted late. It perpetuates a culture of constant authenticity, or should, in theory. We have to share our moments with our friends, it’s instinct.
BeReal utilizes society’s greatest weapon: peer pressure. It cultivates a culture of “group think” and constant reality. Instead of representing the truest moments of someone’s day as it attempts to do, it causes a need for constant perfection. People begin to curate their reality as opposed to their online presence. Instead of being able to take respite from social media and let your guard down, BeReal immerses you in an all-encompassing environment of perfection and curation. The best BeReal is the one that is taken while doing something cool, while also looking effortless. It creates a facade of fantasy, hard to distinguish, but easy to get lost in.
BeReal represents our collective need to share everything with our peers. It is subconscious, and something that tech innovators have latched onto. There is an app for everything. There’s Pinterest for aesthetic inspiration, TikTok for mindless entertainment, Snapchat for social connection, and Instagram as a highlight reel. And now, there’s BeReal, for sharing the most intimate moments of your day with your peers. The thought is there, the intention is good. However, the manifestation of BeReal is just an addition to our greater social dependency. We crave interaction and validation from our peers, but such interactions are born out of fantasy. External validation is the emotional manifestation of social dependency. We need others to feel good about ourselves.
Some will say that representing online intimacy and reality is something that we as a society and a generation need. They will argue that it is the most “honest” form of social media. But that statement in and of itself, “honest social media,” is an oxymoron. I mean, truly, how can social media be honest? It doesn’t make sense to me. How can a system, that is set up as a highlight reel, truly be honest?
The short answer is, it can’t. No matter what your methodology is for your online personality, it is curated to fit your vision. You want to make Instagram casual again? That means you only post candids or photos from casual settings. Are you trying to achieve a certain aesthetic? That manifests itself in certain filters, backgrounds, and poses. It is impossible to achieve true honesty online because you are only your truest self when no one is watching. In the same way, BeReal isn’t actually honest. You can choose what to post, if you post at all. You may not seem like you are posing, but in fact, you are trying to achieve a certain aesthetic.
BeReal is a prime example of how good intentions––to make social media more honest––can differ from impact (perpetuating a society dependent on constant sharing). Social media in and of itself is a curation of life’s highlights. It would be impossible to truly and honestly document every moment of every day. So to have a company that presents itself as the bearer of honesty and truth in the form of social media just does not make sense. It can’t. I guess the question is, who are you when you’re by yourself? Is that when you are actually being real?