The BeReal app encourages users to be authentic. Will he stand the test of time?

Your friends “for real” is the app’s promise.
Once a day, you get a notification notification that gives you two minutes to “be real” and take a picture of what you’re doing. The other day, the girl had to “be real” at her grandfather’s funeral. She later shared the experience on TikTok.

It also gives you the chance to see what your friends are doing and only after you post a candid photo of yourself can you unlock them. To some extent, this suppresses at least some of the pressure to stage or curate your online life.

There are other hurdles designed to maximize the likelihood of authenticity in an app.
You are advised not to take the picture again, and if you do, it will tell your friends how many careful attempts were made. If you take a photo late, it will be marked accordingly.
The shot captures both the front and rear camera so you can see what’s in the frame as well as what’s behind the camera.
There are no likes, no profiles, no follower counter, no filters on BeReal.
The app also relies on the unspoken shame of the user taking the “relaxed” platform too seriously.

Posting five hours late when you’re doing something interesting would be atrocity, for example.

BeReal: Currently one of the most downloaded apps in Australia.

Despite (or thanks to) the stark differences between BeReal and other social networks, the app is growing in popularity. Currently based in France, the platform, launched in 2019, is the most downloaded app on the Australian Apple App Store.
For 25-year-old student Emma Hilton, the app confirms the lull in life and most of the time spent doing tedious but mundane tasks.

“Often I’m just lying in bed when he turns off and I think that’s half of his beauty,” Emma said. Ribbon.

Collage: girl eating a sandwich, girl in prom dress, girl in bed.

Emma Hilton has been using BeReal for a month now and says the low-stakes app gives her a glimpse into her friends’ lives. Credits: Supplied

“You spend all day doing really fun things and being outside and then you lay down to scroll TikTok and then it shuts off,” she added, laughing.

Emma, ​​who has been using the app for about a month, admits to putting off snaps from time to time, especially those involving going to the bathroom.
“I’m sure the few people I have would really appreciate it if I wasn’t real right now,” she said.

“Sometimes if I’ve been in bed too long, I’ll wait until dinner is ready, but that’s never too much fun.”

His intimacy is part of Emma’s allure. In the application, only she and about 10 close friends. She thinks that’s why it works.
Instagram posts are the highlights of your life. And it’s so contrived, no matter how you use it, because you want people to have a certain idea of ​​you, she said. “I like how ordinary it is. [BeReal] is.”
The lack of infinite scrolling is also an advantage.

“It doesn’t require much effort and takes up a very small part of my brain and day. You sort of sink in and go,” Emma said.

Will he stand the test of time?

Tama Leaver, Professor of Internet Studies at Perth Curtin University, who does research in the field of social networks, strongly does not believe. He said that the idea and novelty of the app would not last long.

“Authenticity is the great social media myth, nothing on social media is authentic,” Mr Leaver said. Ribbon.

“Social media is shaped and performative, it’s just done differently.”
Jo Price, who’s been on the app a little longer than Emma, ​​who joined in April, said she’s deviated from the app’s original mission.
“I’m not using it very authentically and will put off adding the photo until something interesting happens,” said the 37-year-old. Ribbon in the message.

“I appreciate that people treat it more like a photo a day challenge because otherwise it would be very boring to watch.”

What does human nature tell us?

Ash King, a psychologist and researcher at the University of Sydney Cyberpsychology Research Group, said that while the app is making clear efforts to achieve its goal, it is still a social media platform where users only show what they want others to see. .
She said the ability to gain followers means that users, consciously or unconsciously, will start following what they post.

“There’s not much that an app can do for that – we are social beings, built to seek status and community. And even with restrictions, we are likely to find a way to achieve status and community in the ways that we envision,” Ms. King said in a statement to Ribbon.

On Twitter, one BeReal user anticipated this sentiment: “Have you ever seen a BeReal notification and ignored it because it’s overwhelming?”
There is one silver lining, Ms. King adds.

“But one of the results of the app is that it can encourage people to think about how they spend their time… Would you rather your life look like this?”

Update… for now

Mr Leaver said most other prominent social media platforms are “starting to feel bloated” as they pull each other off and try to compete with other offerings. He said the simplicity of BeReal is refreshing at the moment.
For now, he said, this app poses no more privacy or security concerns than others, and said users are savvy enough to be aware of the risks of exposing their location at any given time.
But one big “if” that could determine his longevity is how he plans to make money. Mr Leaver suspects that he is following the usual user acquisition business model before monetizing the platform with ads.

“The only way to stay relevant is to gradually build the tools that are on any other platform,” he said.

Collage: a man looks at his coffee, a man looks at his drink.  Photo of the Instagram page.

Tim Hill on BeReal and Instagram. Credits: Supplied.

Tim Hill, an app user since June and founder of a social media analytics app by profession, said founders need to feel comfortable not being number one if they want to stay true to their cause. Otherwise, he will go into the space of his competitors and lose the main message.

“They have to be satisfied with their niche and know that they will never become a mainstream application. I think that’s probably the way to really use it reliably and not annoy people over time.”

Lenta requested a comment from BeReal.