BeFake: how new social media apps don’t make your life any realer

I recently downloaded the new social media app BeReal taking students by the storm.

The app claims to work differently than other social media apps, allowing you to “discover who your friends really are in their daily life,” according to the website. While the app is unique and different from classic social media apps, the idea that people can be separated from their desires to bend the truth because the mission statement of a platform says so is senseless.

For those who don’t know how BeReal works, users are given a two minute window to take a photo of whatever they’re doing at a random time in the day. The app not only uses your front camera but also your back camera, giving people a full view of what you’re doing. You can only post once a day and the app tells users how many retakes it took you before posting. The idea behind the app is that because the notifications are random every day, there is no way for users to be disingenuous online.

During my use of BeReal, there was this sort of desire and urge to “fake” posts in a sense. When I first got the app, it definitely felt like it was influencing what I should do in a day. I assumed that everyone who posted on the app would still be taking the same Instagram-type posts expect people would post daily.

There was this pressure that in order to download and use the app, you needed the exciting and adventurous life people post on social media often. The app didn’t heavily change my habits, however it was the little things that made me most concerned with the authenticity of BeReal.

I bike often. Usually near my house without my phone, biking allows me to take some time off to enjoy the weather and not worry about school, extracurriculars, or anything else bugging me. However, after first getting the app, I thought it would be nice to take a picture of the biking scenery. So, I took my phone and took a longer, more scenic route on my bike ride with hopes that the BeReal went off while riding. 

 

I’m not proud of it, but I’m sure apps like BeReal influence more people’s lives—at least at first use—than people realize. You want to naturally seem sociable, want to seem like you don’t spend your entire time staying at home doing homework, so you change up your schedule slightly to be more productive or interesting. It’s slow at first, yet it gets to a point where you are no longer living your “real” life, living for the validation of others online.

 

When I first started using the app, though, I was surprised with one thing: people were not afraid to post themselves alone doing “boring” things. I expected the app to be a microcosm of Instagram, containing only people showing their picturesque side of life. However, many people are committed to the cause of BeReal, showing off their real life without embellishment.

The issue with classic social media like Instagram and Facebook is that everyone is wearing a persona that they actually aren’t, like posting pictures of their friends on a night out, applying unneeded filters, or acting differently online to keep face. People have a natural tendency to embellish the lives they live in order to impress others and increase their social status.

Although users have two minutes to post on BeReal, they can always post a late BeReal after the allotted time. The only punishment is that users are told how late you posted, however it doesn’t become an issue as many people can’t post during the random notification period (be it they have school, work, etc). However, this allows some people to post the same faux posts that can be seen on Instagram on BeReal as well. People can just wait a few hours when they’re doing something fun, spending time with friends, or finding themselves in a perfect picturesque landscape to post on the app.

While BeReal is a refreshing new social media platform with good intentions, the idea that they promote realism is superficial at most. Yet, this shouldn’t necessarily prevent people from enjoying it. Interacting with friends is certainly more enjoyable and simple than traditional social media apps.