New photo app BeReal sparks transparency among teenagers

September 22, 2022 — by Meher Bhatnagar and Michelle Wan
Photo by Michelle Wan
A compilation of some of our favorite BeReal’s
As soon as the notification goes off, you know what to do.

Time to BeReal! Two minutes left to capture a BeReal to see what your friends are up to! You better be quick — smile before the camera catches you in the most unflattering angle. 

This summer, a new social media app called BeReal has become widely popular among teenagers as a useful way to document what they are doing during the day. Originally released in 2020, the app has been rapidly gaining popularity- reaching numbers as high as 21.6 million active users. It was developed by former GoPro employee Alexis Barreyet.

 The concept is quite simple: A notification sounds once a day at any random time telling you to “BeReal.” As soon as this notification goes off, you have two minutes to post a picture of what you are doing at the time. With the click of a button, the app — using the front and back cameras simultaneously — captures both you and what is in front of you.

Though the entire point of this app is to post within the two minute time frame, some users don’t quite follow the rules and post their BeReal when they are doing something entertaining or hanging out with friends. Personally speaking, we believe this defeats the concept of “being real,” but there is no judgment for wanting to snap a picture when you look and feel your best. 

To be completely honest, most of our BeReals consist of us sitting in front of a TV or computer screen. The big positive to this app is the transparency it encourages. It’s comforting to know you aren’t the only one who is sitting at home all day, not always surrounded by friends. 

You can only view your friends’ photos after you have posted your own. Oh, and not to mention that there are no filters included on the app. Unlike Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, where you can use face or body-shaping filters to create the “perfect” picture, BeReal only allows for non-edited photos to be posted. 

For the vast majority of the time, the angles of the photos taken by users are completely horrendous, but that’s what makes the app so fun. Not to mention the interactive comment sections and fun “RealMojis,” which are essentially quick snapshots of your friends’ reactions. 

BeReal is strictly a friends and contacts-specific media platform, meaning there aren’t any influencers stealing the spotlight on your feed. The app offers teenagers a short two-minute opportunity to “be real” with their close-knit audience, (whether or not they choose to post within the sporadic time frame), before returning to their everyday schedules. Everybody is placed on an even playing field: Nobody is going to judge you for posting a picture of your ceiling.

This app grants users a unique feeling of comfort in knowing what friends are doing at that exact moment the photo is taken. 

Still, it’s best to take the app with a grain of salt. Some may think it’s intrusive or disruptive, but if you really don’t want to answer the notification, just skip a day — nobody will know! The point is for friends to be able to “be real” through unfiltered glimpses into each other’s daily lives. Try it! You may find yourself looking forward to the spontaneous notification.

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