- BeReal is a social media app that asks users to post unfiltered photos of themselves once a day.
- It's meant to encourage people to be more authentic, instead of trying to present their best selves.
- I tried BeReal, and though it took a while to get used to, I became a big fan of the app.
Almost out of nowhere, everyone I know started talking about BeReal.
A new photo-sharing social media app called BeReal has become the latest obsession for Gen Z.
I first heard about it from a friend, who said she was absolutely loving it and wanted our entire friendship group to start using it.
I was hesitant about downloading it because I already spend too much time on TikTok and have been trying to cut down my screen time. But as each of my friends started using BeReal, they began to rave about how fun it was to keep in touch with friends throughout the day on the app, so I eventually caved to the peer pressure and FOMO.
BeReal was invented in 2020, but it's been having a moment this year. According to trending news website Social Media Today, downloads of the app have risen by 315% since the beginning of the year, now ranking fourth in the list of most downloaded social media apps, behind Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
According to the app's description on Apple's App Store, BeReal encourages people to "show your friends who you really are, for once," by removing filters and opportunities to stage, over-think, or edit photos.
I decided to try BeReal for a week to see if it would live up to the hype.
BeReal is a social media app designed to showcase life "without filters."
BeReal allows you to share photos of yourself and your life, but with a catch. Everyone is supposed to post once a day, at the same time.
The app notifies users at a random time throughout the day that it's "time to Be Real." A two-minute timer starts when the user opens the app, giving them a limited amount of time to take a picture of whatever they're doing at that moment.
When posting a BeReal, the app takes a picture using both your front and back camera, so other people can see what you look like and where you are.
My first day on BeReal was a bit of a shock to the system.
When I first downloaded the app, it almost immediately asked me to post my first BeReal, giving me a two-minute countdown to take my picture. I very quickly got a sense of what the app was all about because I didn't have time to assess the lighting or fix my hair before having to take the shot.
In my first post, I didn't realize it was going to take a picture with my back camera as well, so the view ended up being of my trash can and the slightly embarrassing but also very cute mug my friends bought me.
I was thankful that my post would only be visible to people I added as "friends" on the app, so no one else could see this rather unimpressive picture.
I wasn't a fan of the pressure to post your picture on time every day.
One thing I really didn't like about BeReal is the way it notifies you when someone's photo has been posted after the two-minute notification has passed.
Even if you post just a few minutes late, the app notifies all your friends to let them know you've just made a "late" post, which to me, felt a bit like a mark of shame.
I aspired to post on time every day, feeling especially proud of myself when I managed to do so. However, this quickly created a lot of panic and inconvenience when the app notified me during the day at work, and I found myself trying to make a tea and take a cute picture at the same time, resulting in a lot of spillages and a blurry, unflattering picture.
The app forced me to accept a less-than-perfect image.
When I tried to delete my unflattering BeReal post, I was given a list of options and asked to tick the reason I wanted to delete my picture.
According to the BeReal website, you can only delete your post once a day after you've posted it on your feed. While you can retake your BeReal as many times as you like during the two-minute countdown, once you've pressed "post," you can only delete and retake it once.
It seems the app is trying to discourage users from spending too much time on their posts by not allowing them to have multiple attempts.
I initially found this annoying because I'm so used to being able to take a selfie as many times as I want, but I eventually came to enjoy this feature as it allowed me to save screen time and not spend too long trying to take the perfect shot.
To interact with other people's posts, you have to get your face involved.
To react to someone else's post on BeReal, you can't just hit a "heart" or "thumbs up" button.
Rather, you have to take a selfie of your face inside a circle template on the app. These are called "realmojis," where instead of commenting on someone's post with an emoji, your facial expression becomes an emoji in itself.
I had a lot of fun with these, as it felt like I could react to what my friends were doing in a more authentic and personal way by showing them my own face.
I realized I could get creative with captions and comments.
I initially thought BeReal was strictly for sharing photos, but after a few days, I realized I could also add a caption underneath my picture after it went live.
I started to really like this feature, as it allowed me to add context to my BeReal and explain what I was doing.
There's also a comments section under every person's post, where friends can chime in with their witty (or not so witty) remarks, making for a lot of wholesome fun all around.
The app serves as a nice photo album of daily memories.
One of my favorite features on BeReal is the "profile" page, where you can see all your previous posts, which the app calls your "memories."
It felt a lot like 1 Second Everyday, another social media app that all my friends were obsessed with around two years ago, where users upload a one-second video of themselves every day and the app strings them all together into a film throughout the year.
I never bothered with 1 Second Everyday because it felt like it would take a lot of effort to remember to post daily, and I knew I would be annoyed with myself if I missed one.
With BeReal, I don't feel a lot of pressure to post every day because there is no film or finished product to look forward to. I've gotten used to posting when I feel like it, and it's really nice to be able to look back on your "memories" and remember what you were doing on any given day.
Overall, I grew to really like BeReal, and will keep using it for as long as it stays relevant.
It definitely took me a few days to get used to BeReal's unique format. I kept getting frustrated that my pictures weren't as polished or aesthetic as I would usually want them to be, but I'm slowly starting to enjoy the fact that there's no pressure to look my best on the app.
I've also found that BeReal isn't an app I would spend hours procrastinating on. I usually post my picture, briefly scroll through and react to my friends' pictures, and then get on with the rest of my day. It has felt like a refreshing and healthy way to use social media that I've really come to appreciate.
I plan to keep using BeReal for as long as it stays relevant. In the past, trendy apps like Houseparty and Clubhouse have had big moments of popularity, but after a while, people around me have stopped using them, so I'm excited to see what happens in this case.
For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider's Digital Culture team here.