BeReal encourages people at Taylor and around the world to embrace where they are in the present.
The app first launched in 2020 but quickly found a wide audience in 2022. Unlike Instagram or Twitter, BeReal sends notifications for their users to send photos to friends. Notifications can pop up at random times, so it could happen in the middle of a lecture or at a football game.
When college students use many social media apps to connect with friends or see what is trending in the world, BeReal’s goal of authenticity and minimalistic design encourages students to show their friends what they are doing in the moment.
“It’s fun seeing what people do because you don’t really know what people do all the time,” junior Emily Mitchell said.
The camera shows two points of view, allowing users to see a perspective they would not otherwise get with additional social media sites. Since photos are taken within the time frame BeReal gives, friends receive pictures as soon as the picture is shot.
Junior Violet Hammack first heard about BeReal before she returned to California for the summer.
“It’s a lot less of a commitment… it’s a little bit harder to get lost in an endless scroll,” Hammack said.
The notifications offer a challenge to take a picture within the time frame the app allows. Once it is taken, there is not a lot of room to retake the photo or add filters, so when friends receive the BeReal, they get the unfiltered.
When the school year started, BeReal’s popularity continued to rise, so BeReal presents a great way to stay in touch without the distraction of other accounts showing up on the feed.
While junior Kayla Kovacs does not have BeReal, the excitement surrounding the app creates camaraderie with her friends, and she’ll join them in photos.
“Any time there’s a shared platform or a shared piece of culture, I think it brings people closer together,” Kovacs said. “Of course, the influence of everybody having the app in college encourages more and more people to get the app so they can be part of the club.”
Since BeReal does create this sense of urgency, it can cause disruptions when the notification pops up in the middle of a conversation.
“I can imagine that it would have that tendency to ostracize people who are out doing things, and sometimes the BeReal doesn’t go off when I’m doing something exciting,” Hammack said. “So it can have that effect where it creates that separation between people, being like, oh, they’re having fun without me.”
BeReal’s message might be authenticity, but like any social media, it only shows a small portion of someone’s life.
Even though BeReal has been out for around two years, it has recently gained a lot of traction despite being in competition with other social media apps. However, even as it brings people closer together in the moment, the algorithm might be the reason it does not stand the test of time.
“I think Instagram and Facebook are lasting because of ads, and I don’t feel like (BeReal) is as addicting because people only post one time of the day, so you check and you’re finished,” Mitchell said.
Not every social media app is perfect, but in a world that is dominated by online connections and perfectly curated photos, BeReal meets friends where they are.