March 4, 2024

BeReal: Can Social Media Be Casual Again?

By Elizabeth Briese

The endless scroll through social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok has quickly evolved from casually sharing your life to brand deals, influencers, and curated posts. When TikTok successfully blew up, many like myself wondered what the next thing would be.

Then came BeReal. BeReal is a french social media app released in 2020 and has gained a significant amount of popularity in 2022. The app notifies users to take a picture of what they’re doing at a randomly selected time each day within a two-minute window. When taking the picture, it will first capture a photo with the back camera and with the front camera immediately afterward. It’s common to see people in class, at work, on a walk, or even in bed. Your life isn’t supposed to look interesting or cool on there. The app then contains a feed where users can see what others are doing too, but only after one posts themselves to encourage engagement. “Despite its direct demands, the app doesn’t ask for much,” said Calla Kessler for the New York Times. Users can interact with each other’s posts by commenting or reacting with a photo of your face. The app has low stakes — see the notification and share what you’re doing.

BeReal is a breath of fresh air when it comes to social media. Apps like Instagram and TikTok are now filled with ads and planned posts that nothing seems genuine anymore. In past conversations to “make Instagram casual again,” people’s efforts to ditch the excessive filters and content is seemingly unsuccessful. Oftentimes Gen-Z users specifically, post random objects and memories without filters or poses and deem them authentic. Nevertheless, it’s still curated and there’s still extra effort put into these “effortless” photos. So can we really consider that real?

I think that BeReal is successfully achieving an authentic lens of sharing a small piece of your life with others. There’s not too much to it, and I don’t find myself endlessly scrolling through the content I don’t want to see. If I am being honest, I get excited receiving the BeReal notification. “Did the BeReal hit already? What time do you think the BeReal will hit? 6 a.m.? 2 p.m.? 9 p.m.?” is a common conversation held between me and friends. 

Because of the extreme success that BeReal has had in 2022, I am curious if it will remain as simple and authentic as it is now. Its low stakes are what make the app enjoyable to users, but with an increase in revenue and popularity, who knows what will happen next! 

18 thoughts on “BeReal: Can Social Media Be Casual Again?

  1. I actually did my case study about this and love BeReal! I think that it really captures everyones authentic selves. I think that BeReal is a start to getting back that casual vibe of social media again. I believe that people enjoy casual and more laid back apps because it lets people be their true selves. Instagram has shifted the norms of reality to almost being perfect. BeReal is the perfect app in bringing back what is truly real. Great job!

  2. BeReal is a really cool idea. I’m not familiar with the app but I’m wondering (like you) how it will evolve over time, especially in terms of advertising and monetization. It seems like there is still room for product placement, but I imagine that would be more frowned on by the app’s community than others. I appreciate your very clear description of it and how it feels to use!

  3. Hi Briese! This post did a great job of describing what makes BeReal so appealing to both Gen Z, and social media users as a whole. In an increasingly curated world, I agree that BeReal is being hailed as a return to authenticity by its users, and the low effort format makes it easy for anyone to participate. You convinced to give it a download!

  4. I think that lack of authenticity on social media is one of the main contributing factors to the overwhelmingly toxic environment that social media has cultivated. BeReal does a great job of breaking that stigma and provides a platform for real-life sharing in real-time, which I think is really cool. More apps should look for similar approaches to make their platforms more authentic to break that toxic stigma looming over these platforms,

  5. I have actually never heard about this app until reading your blog, but I absolutely love the idea of it! Social media has gotten out of hand with the modernization of technology and Web 3.0! Simplifying social media does so much more than “keeping it real”, but it gives us a mental break seeing normal people doing normal things without filters and fakeness.

  6. I think BeReal is a fun way for those who enjoy social media in a more relaxed manner to engage online daily. Scrolling through it is always entertaining and feels much more casual than scrolling through a platform such as Instagram. However, there is certainly still a lack of authenticity to it. My roommate and I were looking through the app the other day and learned how to check the number of attempts people took at their shots for the day. Some people took as many as 10 tries before getting the post they wanted to share. This goes to show that it isn’t completely thoughtless and “real,” but I still find it to be fun and informal.

  7. Hey Elizabeth,
    This is a great article to summarize BeReal and how the app has gained such popularity. I have used it for about six weeks and I think the app is super fun I can definitely see it becoming the next “it” app. Great job on the article!

  8. Hi Elizabeth!
    This is such an interesting topic, and one that I have similarly written and thought about. Popular social media apps, namely Instagram, have definitely lost the appeal of simplicity they once held (anyone who says they don’t miss posting Instagram-filtered food pics and “like for tbh” posts is lying.) The move to make Instagram casual again is a worthy pursuit, but I think it’s a bit too late, sadly. BeReal does well to build the close connection between users that Instagram used to, and hopefully it gains more mainstream traction!
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. I think this is a super relevant topic and the summarizing of what BeReal is and how real it is or is not. The interaction factor and how much or how little effort you put in is really captured here and does a good job with that and the app.

  10. This is a great article! I have found that BeReal is one of the better social media apps because it is so casual and authentic. I think apps like Instagram can be harmful to your self-esteem because people always post their accomplishments and life milestones, especially social media influencers. I think BeReal provides a more accurate depiction of what people do on a daily basis, and the BeReal platform makes it easy and fun to do.

  11. Hello Elizabeth,

    I have often found myself wondering about this exact topic. I think that in making a social platform that is more authentic and stress less it could allow for more people to want to be on the platform. By having most platforms seem so much like a highlight reel of our lives it creates feelings of FOMO and lowers self confidence due to constantly comparing to others. I wonder when this app will become a top streamlined social media platform.

  12. Elizabeth, I have come to love getting the BeReal notification each day as well! When i’m with my roommates there is a rush to take and share our daily pic. I have even seen strangers in public taking their BeReal pictures. One day last month the alert never went off and other social media apps were filled with shared frustrations! While I do love the concept of your app, you did present a great question about if social media can truly be “effortless” or casual. I have noticed that even if the notification goes off, people will wait to upload until they are doing something more spectacular. This question does make me consider my own usage and habits.

  13. Hi Elizabeth,
    I love this topic! BeReal has been so popular recently and it’s nice to use a different app that isn’t just Instagram or Snapchat. I was over by the Duck Store a few weeks ago and the BeReal notification went off. It was funny to see a bunch of students mention it to each other and stop in their tracks to take photos. This post was super interesting!

  14. Hi Elizabeth!
    I love this topic! BeReal has been so popular recently and it’s nice to use a different app that isn’t just Instagram or Snapchat. I was over by the Duck Store a few weeks ago and the BeReal notification went off. It was funny to see a bunch of students mention it to each other and stop in their tracks to take photos. This post was super interesting!

  15. Hi Elizabeth,
    I enjoyed reading your blog post. I have also started to really look forward to getting BeReal notifications, and am excited when it is time to take my BeReal for the day. I think the app is a great effort to make social media more authentic and it does this in a lot of ways. However, I definitely think people will still wait until they are doing something “cool” enough to post. It helps that it tells your friends when you post late, but people still want to share their best selves on social media.

  16. Hi Elizabeth, I love that you chose to write on BeReal! It has definitely become a staple in my daily routine since downloading it. My friends and I always get excited when we get the notification to take our picture for the day. I do love the contrast of BeReal and the curated Instagram/TikTok posts as it does feel so much more authentic. I hope that social media continues to go in this direction of authentic, raw content versus posed and edited.

  17. Hi Elizabeth, I am so glad that you wrote about BeReal. When I first discovered the app, I was interested to see how big it would become. Now, almost everyone has BeReal. In some cases, you can tell when people manipulate the moments that they are being “real”. I have been catching myself waiting to post a BeReal because I don’t look cute, but I try my best to stay authentic.

  18. I love the app BeReal because it is in fact so casual and I’m praying that they never introduce advertisements onto the platform. I like how it posts at a random time each day so you can see what your friends are up to rather than it being some posed and planned post; BeReal just feels so much more authentic. I really agree with your statement that the other social media platforms don’t feel/seem genuine anymore. I think when people tried to make Instagram casual again it made it all even more fake and try hard like. I really enjoyed your blog post and the many great points you made about BeReal and its success.

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