A woman taking a selfie in a dark room.

When I first wrote about BeReal in January it was a novelty. The platform had marketed itself through college ambassadors, and for the most part only college students were using it. Seven months later, BeReal has gone mainstream and become a pillar of the Gen Z social media landscape. While the app was designed as a “realer” alternative to Instagram and TikTok, it quickly became another way to post content.

“BeReal won’t make you famous,” reads its description in the App Store. “If you want to become an influencer you can stay on TikTok and Instagram.” While to my knowledge no one is exclusively a BeReal influencer (yet), influencers, celebrities, and normies are posting BeReals on other, more easily monetized platforms. Posting your coolest or quirkiest BeReal on main is just another way to share the filtered highlights of your life. 

A BeReal alert goes off once a day, giving you a two-minute window to take a photo. If used as designed, you’re forced to post whatever you’re doing when it goes off, theoretically making it more authentic than other platforms where you can carefully stage your photos and apply flattering filters. The other draw of the app is that everyone posts at the same time, so you only have to look at it once a day. I thought the platform had the potential to do what casual Instagram thought it was doing and be a rare place for genuineness online. But BeReal has proven that there is no authenticity on social media.

The 2 min BeReal notfication.

The BeReal notification goes off at a different time every day.
Credit: BeReal

While BeReal gives you a two-minute window to post, it still allows you to post later in the day. You just can’t view your friends’ posts until you post. Because of this workaround many users simply wait until they’re doing something notable to post, which defeats the intended purpose of the platform. It also causes you to be constantly inundated with notifications of your friends posting throughout the day. Don’t get me wrong: It’s still fun to see the highlights of my friends’ day, but there isn’t anything novel or subversive about that. I could just watch their Instagram Stories instead. 

I understand why you might be inclined to post the best part of your day on BeReal. When I downloaded the app I only added my close friends, treating the app like a finsta because only so many people should have the privilege of seeing me sitting at my laptop everyday. As the app became more popular, looser acquaintances added me, making it more like Instagram where you only post what you’re comfortable with a bunch of people seeing. The circle of friends who got me on the platform were driven off the app because more and more people added them.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve seen BeReals popping up in Instagram Stories and TikToks. BeReals capture your front and back camera, making for an alternative addition to your photo dumps. BeReal has filled the space VSCO and Huji left behind as apps that elevate your feeds on other social media platforms. I knew BeReal had solidified its place in the social media ecosystem when Tyler, the Creator posted a BeReal in his most recent, dreamy photo dump

Additionally, TikTokker @bee.austin posted a TikTok of the BeReal she took with The 1975 frontman, Matty Healy. The TikTok garnered over 322,000 views and over 66,000 likes in less than 24 hours, proving that securing an iconic BeReal has become another opportunity to go viral. I’ve seen dozens on videos on my FYP of Harry Styles fans frantically trying to get the pop star in their BeReals at his concert. One posted by @emily.greeen got over 700,000 views and over 200,000 likes.

BeReal of Matty Healy.

Capturing an iconic BeReal is the latest way to go viral on TikTok.
Credit: TikTok / bee.austin

A BeReal of Harry Styles.

Credit: TikTok / emily.greeen

Getting a selfie is no longer enough, but getting a BeReal? That’s new and exciting. BeReals are the new selfie. They capture more than the traditional selfie, and if you’re savvy enough to time your BeReal just so, like @bee.austin did, you can fit two selfies into one. The trendiest BeReals take advantage of popularity of the high-wide angle lens, creating an entirely new genre of selfie.

Unfortunately, what was marketed as an authentic social media platform is now just another way to commodify your life.

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