I’ve had the app for a month – nothing is real here

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Created: 09/25/2022, 04:47

Von: Felicitas Breschendorf


When you travel or fall asleep: on BeReal you show your supposed “real” self. © Screen / BeReal

Our author tested the “BeReal” app for a month and said: “BeFake would fit better”.

After Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, now there is BeReal. A social media app that claims not to be as fake as its predecessors. But are we really ourselves on the app? Without embellishments, without posing? Are we showing real life? It would be nice!

I, 26, have tried the app for a month and I am convinced: the real is different. And if it does, reality is pretty damn boring.

Getting started with BeReal: Posting is stressful

Unlike Instagram, BeReal only posts once a day. So I can’t decide when at first – I get a push notification every day at a certain time that varies every day. This can be in the morning, noon or late in the evening. Behind a threatening yellow warning sign I read: “You have two minutes to post your BeReal”. At first it stressed me out. Shit, I need to upload a photo quick!

In social media, I’m actually on the prowl – that’s what people call people who just watch what others are doing without posting themselves. On BeReal I am forced to post. Everyday! All photos in the BeReal app will be deleted after 24 hours. If I don’t post a photo myself, I can’t see my friends’ photos. And honestly, that’s why I’m here: to see what my friends are doing.

Better BeLate like BeReal

Other than the two minutes, I can’t just select a photo from the media library. This means I only have two or three attempts to take a good photo. At the end of the countdown, the photo is set. BeReal gives the impression that I can only post what I’m actually doing right now: whether I’m sleeping, sitting on the toilet or standing in line at the bakery. Really real.

But I soon realized that the reality of BeReal is different: it is true that you only have two minutes to take the photo yourself. However, I can vary the time I take the photos. I can just ignore the push notification. So I can decide to post later. This post is called “BeLate”. The app will then show how many minutes or hours of delay I have posted. If I post a BeLate, my friends get a notification from the app, but they can turn it off. It has no more consequences to be late than real.

BeReal screenshot.  Photographing a drink in the evening, even if the notification arrived at noon.  Better to be late than sorry!
Photographing a drink in the evening, even if the BeReal notification arrived at noon. © BeReal / Screenshot

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“If I’m sad or angry, I don’t want to show it”

What initially seemed real soon turns out to be false. While at first I was stressed about photographing the here and now, now I think more and more: I’m waiting for a better time! For example, when I’m lying in bed or brushing my teeth, I don’t want to photograph it. Since the BeReal app activates the front and rear cameras at the same time, you automatically take a selfie every time. When I’m sad or angry, I don’t want to show it. I expect to relax by walking around the city or sitting in a bar with friends in the evening. Better to be late than sorry!

How real is BeReal?

On BeReal I share a part of my reality, but only a superficial version of it: I share the things that I least care about others seeing. Not that sometimes I’m not in a good mood or stressed when I cook. But a smile and the delicious meal is over.

BeReal screenshot.  There are many smiles on BeReal.  It works less well against the sun.
There are many smiles on BeReal. It works less well against the sun. © BeReal / Screenshot

The only emotion shown in my feed besides happiness is fatigue. Because fatigue is a fairly superficial part of reality. According to the motto: Monday again! Even so broken today?

What strikes me about friends is that they always look good on BeReal. Some have perfected the selfie look through years of Insta and Snapchat experience. (I’m not always that good at this.) You can turn on the rear camera to take pictures of the coolest part of the environment. At the same time, they manage to smile without observing themselves. The view that the app will catch you in the act doesn’t work.

Being real is more boring than you think

With BeReal it is not possible to show your best moments like with Instagram. Most of the time, everyday life is pretty boring: you sit at your desk, on the train or walk down the street. For me, being real does not mean boring everyday life, but interior. How we feel, what we think. On BeReal I see the well-furnished apartments of my friends, even if they are photographed a bit crooked. I see many trains from the inside, many laptops on the desks. And many smiling faces.

BeReal screenshot.  Minigolf - by far the most exciting thing that happened on my BeReal.
Minigolf – by far the most exciting thing that happened on my BeReal. © BeReal / Screenshot

Where is the most beautiful corner?

When photographing a BeReal, the image from the front or rear camera is visible. You can set it in the app. So I have full control over only one of the two images: selfie or background. Either way, I still think about which section I choose. I go round and round the phone. I can decide whether to post the tidy or untidy part of my room. For example, I recently went to Hamburg and took pictures from a window: the Elbe was more beautiful than the table in front of me.

BeReal screenshot.  Ebb at the Elbe in Hamburg, quickly captured with BeReal.
Ebb at the Elbe in Hamburg, quickly captured with BeReal. © BeReal / Screenshot /

Hello influencer, hello circle of friends

I learned about BeReal through my roommate. He’s excited about how personal the app is – finally connecting with your friends again. The contacts you have in BeReal are actually very private. Similar to Snapchat. If anyone in the phone book has BeReal, they will be suggested to you there. Otherwise, the only option is to enter the nickname in the search bar, not the real name. The result is that your contacts are made up of your circle of friends (and the people whose number one you saved at some point). I see what my friends are doing and I show my friends what I am doing. This is pretty much how Instagram was born before the app was populated by influencers.

I agree with my roommate that the beauty of BeReal is the intimate environment in which to act. My BeReal community is small and manageable. This also has to do with the fact that I don’t have a lot of contacts in the app yet. As BeReal becomes more popular and scrolling gets longer, my opinion may change.

RealMojos: Realistic smileys?

BeReal screenshot.  A grimace in a round circle.  Here's what a realistic RealMoji can look like.
Here’s what a realistic RealMoji can look like. © BeReal / Screenshot

RealMojis are cute, almost realistic emoticons that you can use to react to BeReal. Instead of a yellow impersonal circle, there is an option to photograph your reaction. You can even smile in a round shape or otherwise make a face. The exchange therefore takes place on a relaxed level. This doesn’t make the reactions more personal or real. There aren’t many comments or ratings on BeReal.

Beware, it’s addictive!

Despite the little reality, I happily used the app every day for a month. And it will continue to do so for the time being. Could it be for the flashing warning sign and the alleged two minutes? Is it contact with my friends? Or am I just curious? I’m not sure, but one thing is certain: BeReal may not be real, but it is addictive.

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