Are you on BeReal yet?
There’s a new social media player in town, and your kids might already be on it. BeReal is a French app that’s currently taking the social media world by storm: over 6 million people have downloaded it in the last two years, and with an astounding 315 percent growth rate, year to date, the young platform already has publications labeling it as “Gen Z’s new favorite app.” And before you roll your eyes at the idea of having to learn how to use the latest photo-sharing network, you might want to take a beat and learn about what BeReal is actually trying to do.
The goal of BeReal is to offer a “new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life,” per its website. The whole premise of the app is to offer a more authentic for people to interact online, especially if they’ve grown tired of the constant pressure to look and behave a certain way. And at a time when other social media platforms are being accused of contributing to a full-blown mental health crisis among teenagers, it kind of feels like this type of app is entering the landscape right on time.
Perhaps most surprisingly: It seems like the app is already a huge success with the very people who need it the most.
How BeReal is different than any other social media app
Compared to other social media platforms, BeReal has an entirely different way of engaging its users. While Instagram and Facebook have created ecosystems that are literally endless in terms of how much time you can spend and content you can consume in a day, BeReal offers the exact opposite: It actively limits your engagement with the app to one moment every day.
Here’s how it works: At a random point in the day, you receive a prompt from BeReal to take a picture of what you’re doing. You have to respond within two minutes, and when you take the photo, BeReal will also take a picture of you at the same time. Your friends get the same prompt. Everyone sends those two photos to their group of friends, and in a matter of minutes, you get an unfiltered glimpse into what’s going on in your friends’ days.
The whole point of this is honesty. It’s not meant to be a glam photoshoot. You might send a picture of your dog if you’re out on a walk, and you might see a picture of your friend at their desk, working.
If you don’t like the photo you take and want to retake it, or if you miss the two-minute window, you can still send another picture, but here’s the kicker: Your friends will get a notification that you re-took the photo or that you were late. BeReal is literally encouraging everyone to be as spontaneous and real as possible, and, unlike Instagram or TikTok, it has set up a user interface that incentivizes people to do just that.
Without fun and glam filters, what do young people like about BeReal?
One college student, Meredith Mueller, spoke to NPR about why she loves BeReal. “It’s just so fun to, like, go take a break throughout my day and just go on there and see exactly what people are doing in the moment and throughout their day and where people are at,” she said.
But it’s not just the style of content sharing that separates BeReal from other platforms like Instagram and TikTok. It’s also the way follower counts aren’t emphasized at all.
Per NPR, Mueller’s follower count on BeReal is 50 people, all of whom she knows intimately. It’s a far cry from the 2,000 or so followers she has on Instagram — and that’s pretty much the exact point of BeReal. While Mueller feels pressure to “look good” on Instagram, she says her experience with this new app is the exact opposite.
“It’s more like a down-to-earth app,” she said. “I would say it’s like a judgment-free zone.”
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