BeReal: The app for more authenticity – we tried it

My cell phone makes itself heard loudly. “Time to BeReal” is written on my display, surrounded by two warning emojis. I have two minutes to post a photo on the app. I point the phone camera at what’s in front of me at that moment. Then BeReal says: “Please smile” – and at the same time takes my selfie. The combined image is uploaded and I wait a moment to see if some of my friends might be just as punctually “real” as I am.

Unfiltered and without algorithms, I can then see what my friends are doing at the moment – and again and again at a different time of the day, randomly selected by the app.

It’s like a keyhole through which I look into the lives of others. I see my friends cooking, watching TV, at work or on vacation. The daily photo should only be taken in the two minutes and can only be taken in the app. Instead of a beautiful beach scenery, you see the unmade hotel bed when the notification comes at nine o’clock in the morning.

A bit of cheating is still possible: nothing prevents me from waiting for the “perfect” moment for my BeReal. If I open the app five hours after the alarm, I can’t see any photos of my friends at first. That only works if I post BeReal myself. If I do that, the app also shows my delay – as well as the number of picture attempts. Because the app shows the shot photo before you tap upload. If it then becomes too real for my taste, I can record it again and share the location.

This is exactly what makes BeReal so transparent: Despite the basic idea of ​​taking and uploading a picture immediately and within two minutes when asked, the app leaves me enough freedom to use it when I can. But she also tells my friends that I photographed a different situation than at time X, so that I don’t have the chance to artificially beautify my everyday life.




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If the exchange with my friends is not enough for me, I can also post my pictures globally in BeReal. Then the image ends up in an Explore feed, which gives a small glimpse into the reality of people around the world. It does feel a little strange seeing strangers’ living rooms and workspaces, though.


Aylin zur Borg, TR social media editor, lives in the virtual worlds.  BeReal is her daily connection to her friends around the world.,

Aylin zur Borg, TR social media editor, lives in the virtual worlds.  BeReal is her daily connection to her friends around the world.,

Aylin zur Borg, TR social media editor, lives in the virtual worlds. BeReal is her daily connection to her friends around the world.

BeReal hit the app stores back in 2019. In 2021 there were just 700,000 daily active users, in October 2022 there were suddenly over 20 million. A good increase, which certainly also has something to do with the other social networks on which users have gone viral with their experiences with BeReal.

Despite the occasional notification of new posts, BeReal doesn’t keep me on the app for long, averaging just two minutes a day. I spend about 40 minutes on Instagram alone. This raises the question: How is a social network supposed to survive if its identity is based on posting its everyday life only once a day? Anyone who has observed social networks in recent years knows that user-friendliness comes first to build up the user base. Only later, when the app is essential for its users, can advertising be expected of them. I’m curious to see if and how BeReal will continue to develop – or if I find it too boring and will have uninstalled it again in a few months.




(jl)

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