Is BeReal, A Timed Photo App, The Answer To Our Social Media Addiction?

By Ramsha Afridi··  5 min read
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Do you ever wish that you could stop wasting endless time on social media? Well, there is a new photo app that literally wants you to get off your phone.

BeReal is a new social media platform that contradicts the conventions of traditional social media.

The app was launched in 2020 by French entrepreneur Alexis Barreyat, who felt disillusioned with overglamourized, mainstream social media platforms that misrepresented real life.

Just a year after BeReal’s launch, it took French college campuses by storm. This is because it only lets its users post once a day, instead of giving them the option to curate their feeds by posting pictures whenever they want.

At a random time every day, the app will simultaneously send every user a notification. Then, users will have two minutes to post a brand new image, as the app doesn’t have access to the user’s camera roll.

And finally, for the most hilariously cool part, the app will time-stamp posts, which means the app will quite literally shame users who post after the two-minute window!

BeReal simultaneously sends every user a notification, and they have two minutes to post a new image.

To make things even more interesting, BeReal doesn’t have the option to “like” photos nor does it allow users to lurk on other photos unless they share their own posts. The app also doesn’t “save pictures,” but instead its servers are designed to automatically delete all posts after they have been viewed.

The app is perfect for users who don’t want to get caught up in the toxic habit of endlessly scrolling on social media and wasting precious time.

To keep things simple, the app’s goal is to candidly show what users are up to – their day-to-day life in an honest, fun, and genuine way. 

BeReal Could Drastically Change Mental Health Surrounding Social Media

BeReal could drastically change mental health surrounding social media because it finally challenges mainstream social media culture, which has often been linked to the rise of mental health issues. 

Over the last few years, the mental health effects of social media on young people have been widely discussed. 

In September 2021, a shocking report published by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook was well aware that Instagram causes many of its young users, particularly teen girls, mental health issues and suicidal thoughts, with about 6% of youngsters in the U.S. and 13% in the UK. 

The tech giant had conducted three years of studies about the harmful effects of Instagram among its millions of young users, with researchers summarizing the findings as a “teen mental health dive.”

The rules of BeReal mitigate the negative side effects of social media by preventing filters.

“32% of teen girls believed that when they felt negatively about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the WSJ writes, citing a March 2020 slide presentation posted to Facebook’s internal message board. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”

Ultimately, a number of young people felt the need to conform to a “desirable,” yet often hard-to-obtain body image perpetuated by filtered, photoshopped, and posed images on sites such as Instagram.

BeReal goes against the norm of featuring highly edited photos or curated, filtered content, where self-worth is sadly weighed in likes and comments – both of which only make young people feel worse and more divorced from real life. The rules of the app mitigate the negative side effects of social media use by preventing filters and limiting time spent on the app. It encourages candid and genuine snapshots of what you’re actually doing in your day at that moment. 

Will This Be the Future of Social Media?

Today, an anti-social media movement seems to be making waves within Gen Z.

Just recently, the New York Post published an article titled “‘The ultimate waste’: Young people say no to TikTok, social media.” 

The article cited new research, which found out that young people are now disengaging from social media. According to the survey commissioned by investment bank Piper Sandler, only 22% of respondents aged 7-22 named Instagram as their favorite app, down from 31% in spring 2020.

It could be possible that young people are now done with filtered feeds and curated stories and are looking for healthier avenues, which are more relatable. 

Some may see the BeReal app as a step toward lessening our addiction to posting synthetic photographic updates of our daily activities. Others, more critical of the social media era altogether, might question why we need to obsessively post such updates at all. 

As 20-year-old Gabriella Steinerman told The Post, “When you delete it you realize you don’t need it.” 

Closing Thoughts

BeReal is a unique idea as it provides much-needed authenticity and simplicity for young people, especially Gen Z, in a digital sphere dominated by heavily filtered, curated content.

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  Society  Social Media  Mental Health
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