“Time to BeReal. 2 min left to capture a BeReal to see what you’re friends are up to”

When most people discovered BeReal, it felt like a breath of fresh air from the toxicity and commercialization of modern social media. No filters, no ads, no fluff; just one photo uploaded daily of whatever you’re doing the exact moment the app sends you a push notification. For me, seeing half my feed doing normal activities at 2:35PM in the afternoon was comforting, as I too was likely lying in my bed watching TV.

During BeReal’s rise to popularity, people really did want to be real. People would genuinely post at the exact time the notification came out, no matter how exciting or bland their day looked, no matter how good they looked. BeReal seemed be starting a new age of social media that destigmatized being perfect all the time, and allowed users to be authentic. 

Obviously, this authenticity did not last long. 

I actively witnessed the rapid rise to popularity and the slow yet steady decline of BeReal as it quickly became just as toxic as any other social media app. The first tell for me came when I started to obsess about when the push notification was going to buzz. I would constantly be checking my phone (as if I wasn’t doing so enough before the app), hoping a notification would or would not come as my day went on. I then started caring about how many reactions and comments I was getting on my posts (i.e. I obsessed over how other people were perceiving my day). This was another classic Gen Z social media downfall. Even if I was doing something mundane at the time the notification came out, I would scramble a bit to make it seem more interesting so that people would react more. * Sigh

And now, people aren’t even real anymore. I see a lot of my feed, including myself at times, waiting until I’m doing something exciting or where I look good to post on BeReal rather than posting at the exact time it comes out. It’s even become a trend to caption these instances “BeingFake,” as if the self-awareness still reflects a certain sense of authenticity. News flash to self (and everyone else): it doesn’t, it’s just a glorified admission of guilt that we are all just as bad on BeReal as we are on any other app.

Of course, this has its caveats. We can not always post at the exact time it comes out– we’re busy, we have lives. However, it feels obvious to me that BeReal has just become a more casual, daily use version of Instagram, where users have one opportunity to post what the best part of their day was. Where once I could find comfort in the casual energy of my feed, I now find myself almost jealous of the seemingly constant stream of cool activities people do throughout their day. And I’m a culprit too. 

Will we ever be able to be real on social media again? Or will we always find a way to create a false sense of reality, no matter what the context is?