Let’s BeReal: the Fight for Authenticity

Artwork Credit: Camille Xu 24

Artwork Credit: Camille Xu ’24

Angie Yang '24

Every day at a random time, thousands of users from all across the globe receive the same simple notification: It’s time to BeReal. With a simple four words, users hurry to take two photos utilizing the double-facing camera before a two-minute window is over. Unlike traditional social media platforms like Instagram, the perfect shot on BeReal doesn’t consist of an image layered in filters with immense editing; instead, it allows users a glimpse into the realistic, equally mundane lives of others. BeReal also exposes you if the photos are posted beyond the two-minute time frame and even notifies how many tries it took to take the “perfect” shot. 


As the new social media platform that has taken the internet by storm, BeReal has aptly been dubbed the “anti-Instagram.” BeReal offers a new take on social media: it lacks the hordes of influencers vying for fame and the companies constantly advertising their products. The French company was launched in 2020 by Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau. Initially only widely used in France, 2022 saw a massive spike in users from all across the world. According to Sensor Tower, the user count reached 53 million people in October[1]. With their uniquely refreshing marketing approach, BeReal advertises through word of mouth. Over the past few months, it’s gained a lot of traction, earning cameos with notable stars like Harry Styles and even its own SNL skit! 


The popular demand for honesty on social media has inspired other well-known apps to follow suit. TikTok announced a new feature called TikTok Now mimicking the format of BeReal. Within its first two weeks, TikTok Now was able to gain 10 million users[1]. Instagram announced that their Instagram Candid Challenges is in the works, an exact replica of BeReal that’ll be posted on people’s stories. Additionally, Snapchat has released a dual camera mode. Due to BeReal’s simple format, it’s become easy to replicate and susceptible to copycats as other platforms try to profit off the format[2].  


Tired of the unattainable standards that have filled Instagram, a new movement dedicated to greater transparency online has emerged. Straying away from the edited, perfectly timed photos, these photos feature imperfections. However, even with key features to promote authenticity, users can still fall into the trap of wanting to present their best lives. Saving the daily BeReal for when they are having fun even if it’s hours after the notification has gone off or taking multiple shots to get better angles. Although their friends may see they have done so, at least they still got to capture the most exciting parts of life from the most attractive angle.


In the midst of greater authenticity, it’s important to be aware of Casual Instagram, a term used to describe the style of posting like you don’t care how your viewers will perceive you. Celebrities like Emma Chamberlain and Dua Lipa are known for their more casual posting. Despite their popularity, every photo dump that fills our feed still consists of performative actions in creating a natural but specific aesthetic that remains pleasing to the eye, from the angle, pose, lighting, and more. Although it offers a slice-of-life perspective, it can never truly escape the old habits[3]. 


With all of this, it’s hard not to wonder if BeReal is enough to fight this performative act. Will we ever truly be real?