BeReal or BeFake, just delete the app
Mackenzie Guadagno, Managing Editor
Disclaimer: Other Riptide staff (e.g. Lila Cohen) do not share this opinion nor it is their responsibility if readers have personal attachment to anything mentioned in the following story.
I can no longer silently watch people ignorantly fall for BeReal’s advertising campaign which can only be described as manipulative, lazy, and—unfortunately—brilliant. BeReal, a hot, new and trendy social media app, was released over the pandemic in 2020, and is a platform built on authenticity, or “being real.” The problem with this? BeReal is an app with a superiority complex for doing something that it doesn’t do. Even its slogan, “Not another social network,” screams conceit. It thrives on its ability to advertise authenticity, and I find it incredibly ironic how much BeReal promotes an idea it fails so miserably to execute.
After researching and downloading BeReal for the sole purpose of effectively writing this story, I am able to confidently give you some solid background information on the app. BeReal is a social media platform that gives users two minutes at a random time in the day to take a photo with both the front and back camera. Users then post the images for friends to see what they’re doing in that particular moment. The concept aims to promote the idea that social media can be authentic if you’re on the right app. Or in other words, if you’re on BeReal. Through posting when randomly directed instead of just when life feels “Instagrammable,” BeReal is believed to be more “authentic” than other apps.
While this idea is arguably a good one, the app constantly contradicts itself. First of all, users don’t only have two minutes to take a photo, they have two minutes to take a photo marked as “on-time.” Users are still able to post the remainder of the day, and are your friends really going to notice a late post if it’s at a Steve Lacey concert? However, I am not arguing that this example is one of the problems. I have no issue with people obviously taking creative liberties with the app. While they might not be “being real,” at least they’re having fun. The real problem is when users stage BeReals and make minor—but aesthetic—changes to create a more camera-ready online presence. It’s important to note that the problem doesn’t lie with individuals; in fact, it’s only natural to want to present our most put-together selves. The problem is the platform that is allowing people to fool each other. With this, the “realness” that a BeReal post represents is really no different than a photo posted on any other social media platform.
Not only is BeReal just like every other platform, other platforms are becoming more like BeReal. Snapchat recently released “Dual Camera” which is a clear dupe for BeReal, as did TikTok with their new feature “Now.” Even so, BeReal makes a substantial effort asserting its superiority over other social media platforms. But as they say, let’s be real—is BeReal really better than all those other apps? As a proud user of TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, I know that most social media apps do not encourage authenticity. And that isn’t going to stop me from downloading them. However, I take issue with the fact that BeReal has no significant difference with the other apps I listed and yet still claims to be better. If the app is going to encourage toxic social media habits, it should at least be honest about it. While Instagram and Tiktok are certainly problematic, these apps still haven’t managed to convince their communities otherwise, unlike BeReal. That false advertising is what I think makes this app so toxic. It convinces people that the platform is authentic, when in reality users’ habits haven’t changed—they’ve just become more subtle.
With this in mind, BeReal actively promotes a toxic twisted version of what authenticity could be. It is built on the idea that authenticity requires people to subject themselves into giving away any information at any time to anyone that requests it. And the idea that someone has to give up their personal information in order to be authentic is simply offensive. People should be able to say: what I’m doing right now is none of your business, without getting social backlash for not being “real.” Authenticity has nothing to do with what you present on social media because social media is fundamentally fake. If people are only downloading this app and posting their daily BeReal to appear authentic, doesn’t that disregard the point altogether? Is it really authentic if it is only a performance?
After much consideration and the shocking information that has been brought before me after looking into the BeReal app, I think it can be unanimously decided that Lila Cohen, Editor-in-Chief of Riptide, should delete the BeReal app.