The BeReal photo sharing app is boring

The BeReal photo sharing app is boring

If you can say that social platforms had good old days, it was when people were still signing up to see if their friends were there, and to understand why – those early moments when their potential was felt but not yet Described. This is what is happening now on BeReal, a new platform where people post photos to their friends with a few important twists.

Once a day, at an unpredictable time, BeReal informs users that they have two minutes to post a pair of pictures, taken from each camera of each phone, taken simultaneously. The only way to see what other people have posted that day is to share yourself. You can post after closing the two-minute window, but all your friends will be notified that you are late; You can re-take a photo of your day, but your friends knew it too. Your friends can reply to your posts with “RealMoji” – mostly in the form of a selfie reaction that is visible to all of your contacts. All photos disappear the next day.

Other platforms are experimenting with manipulative gemification. ᲘBe real Is The game. However its rules are simple – Post, Now – The message is mixed. Do not be too strict with yourself, just publish everything! He offers, the clock is ticking. And then in a whisper: But do not try. (BeReal did not respond to an email or Twitter request for comment.)

As a result, a typical BeReal channel contains photos taken in class, at work, while driving, or preparing to go to bed. Lots of people have funny or sad faces during fun or boring activities. It’s good! Or not at all unhappy, which costs a lot these days.

Currently, BeReal is more like a group activity than a full-fledged social platform, a diversion of low stakes that, despite its direct demands, does not require much. This is a randomly planned social break from your day, but also from your other channels where scrolling and posting went from leisure to work or worse, as The Wall Street Journal reported last year in a story about how Instagram has damaged the mental health of teens. .

One of the founders of BeReal is a former employee of GoPro and he shares his experience as rudeness and authenticity, but at least for this customer, he may feel more distracted and nostalgic as a reproduction of the experience of joining one. Dominant social networks when they still felt like toys. Look, they are my friends, it’s kind of fun, we’re doing this particular thing together. What could go wrong?

BeReal, based in Paris, was founded in 2020 and by April of this year, according to the analytical firm Apptopia, it had been installed approximately 7.41 million times. The app has been covered in student newspapers over the past few months, noting the aggressive use of paid campus ambassadors; In March, Bloomberg announced that the app was “modern in colleges.”

According to Pitchbook, the company raised about $ 30 million in venture financing last year, and a recent Insider report says the next round of financing is likely to be much larger.

Noisy new apps are constantly popping up. Part of the appeal of using them is never knowing which one will stay. The chance that the app can become something important makes it attractive; Novelty and unpredictability prevent the feeling that, Oh no, Here we go again. A much higher probability that a given platform will explode or cease to exist gives you the right not to worry about what you are doing there and where it may lead you. He is the best of all the worlds and does not last long.

My fond memories of registering for services that will eventually change the course of history are strongly characterized by desktops; I am old for the purposes of this conversation. But when it comes to social networking, nostalgia manifests itself quickly and youthfully.

“When posting on Instagram these days, it’s such a process,” said Brendan Cum, a Stanford undergraduate student. His parents follow him on Snapchat, which he believes has “reached its peak.” He joined BeReal in December after hearing from a friend. He appreciates the fact that it is temporary, low effort and “situational”. It is less of a substitute for anything other than an extracurricular social media program.

“Even college students think it’s a bit of a brawl,” said Mr Kum, 21.

His classmate Oriana Riley, 19, agreed that the app asked him less than others. “I think the BeReal aspect of it once a day makes it feel much healthier than using other social media,” Ms Riley said. “It’s less attractive than other social media.”

BeReal is absolutely not an antisocial media project – it is a commercial social photo sharing app that seeks to gain a critical mass of users within a largely familiar paradigm. Most of the apps expect users to eventually generate revenue through advertising, commerce and other forms of engagement.

BeReal is currently out of advertising and its terms of use prohibit users from posting themselves. But it is a startup that has raised funds from the same firms that invested in Facebook and Instagram more than a decade ago – another app that has caused vague nostalgia just by giving users movie-like photo filters. Their departure.

What BeReal is now offering is a new version of the experience that has been spoiled or wiped out elsewhere. But most social apps want to be the next major and not the last tribute. The cozy new app that Ms. Riley describes as helping her feel “close to friends” is her investors’ next hope for a big paycheck.

If Instagram or Snapchat reported daily to their users that they had two minutes to post, it would be understood as desperate spam; If TikTok asked its users to share the video before they saw anything else that day, as BeReal does, it would not be a way to promote trust or intimacy, but rather as a breach of growth in the service of hackers. Random timely checking is fun among friends; Throughout, they are tracking.

This does not mean that a larger platform will not imitate and try to acquire BeReal if it continues to grow: Snapchat, Instagram and now Twitter are encouraging users to post less self-consciously with features like Close Friends and Twitter Circle. They also long for the good old days.

BeReal is blunt, but it well asserts its point: if you spend enough time in spaces that require something interesting from you, you will eventually become bored. The expectation of seeing featured posts from your friends makes users feel more generous with each other and with themselves. Photos of keyboards, sidewalks, pets and children, desks and walls, and lots of screens accompanied by poorly framed faces may not be entirely new or sustainable. But now for some they feel relieved.


For Context is a column that explores the edges of digital culture.

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