BeReal is Gen Z’s new social media app: You’re forgiven if you haven’t heard of the BeReal app and aren’t a member of Generation Z. The social media app is the most recent to capture the attention of the younger generation – and its popularity is rapidly growing.
According to Apptopia data, downloads have increased by at least 315 percent this year alone.
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What is BeReal?
Social media can be time-consuming and stressful, but BeReal says it wants to change that.
This is how it works. The app sends you a notification once a day. It informs you that it is time to post your BeReal for the day, and that you have two minutes to do so. Your friends should also receive the notification at the same time.
The idea is that you photograph whatever you’re doing at the time, no matter how mundane or exciting it is. You could be walking to class, taking the bus to work, or getting the notification while eating dinner or riding your bike.
You use your back-facing camera to photograph what you’re doing, and your phone uses its front-facing camera to photograph you – surprise!
That’s all. You can’t change your appearance with filters or third-party apps. Retakes are allowed, and you can still post if you miss the window, but your friends will see that you retook the image or posted late in both cases.
The app bills the parameters in place as “a new and unique way to discover who your friends truly are in their daily lives.”
Why is it popular now BeReal is Gen Z’s new social media app. ?
BeReal’s 315 percent year-to-date increase in downloads is notable, but it’s not the only one. Alexis Barreyat, a French entrepreneur, launched the app in 2020, but at least 65 percent of lifetime downloads occurred in the first quarter of 2022.
With its ambassador program the app appears to be targeting college students.
BeReal encourages participation by requiring users to share content before viewing the posts of others.
Wynne Davis for NPR
Meredith Mueller is a sophomore journalism student at the University of Kansas. Mueller got BeReal a few weeks ago after hearing about it from her roommate.
“I downloaded it, typed in my information, and it came up with all my contacts with people who already had this,” Mueller explained. “And I was like, how have I never heard of this and all these people in my contacts have it?”
Mueller’s favourite social media app has quickly become BeReal.
“It’s just so much fun to 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,” she said.
Does BeReal need to change the game?
Mueller claimed to have around 50 friends on BeReal, far fewer than the 2,000 or so followers she has on Instagram. And, unlike Instagram or Snapchat, where Mueller claims there is pressure “to look good,” she believes BeReal lacks that fake feel.
“Snapchat is more like you’re sending it to one person, whereas if you post on your story, you’re trying to look good,” she explained. “Whereas this is like… wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you come to a complete stop and all your friends can see it. It’s more of a practical app. It’s almost like a judgment-free zone, in my opinion.”
Individual curation on other social media platforms is part of what BeReal is attempting to break with its lack of filters and timestamps. The goal is to appear to provide a more intimate view of your life.
Chris Stedman, author of IRL: Finding Our Real Selves in a Digital World, believes there is a need for spaces where people can let down their guard and just be themselves, but he also believes curation of other apps isn’t always a bad thing. Indeed, it may be a very human thing to do.
Stedman began working on his book after going through a difficult period in his life and discovering that he was not telling that story online. where he was posting as if everything was fine.
“A big part of why I wrote it was to figure out whether or not the internet is a place where we can feel human,” he explained. “But the truth is that there is nothing more human than curating a self to share with the world.”
Highlight reels of your personal life are nothing new, according to Stedman. Family photo albums or homemade movies from childhood can also serve as reminders of the best times in one’s life.
Stedman hasn’t used BeReal and doesn’t plan to, but he can see why Gen Z might enjoy it.
“I think one of the big challenges people have on social media is that I’m seeing everyone else’s highlight reel, but I’m experiencing the fullness of my own life with all of the mundane stuff,” Stedman explained. “I can definitely see some value in being able to get this reminder that everyone else’s lives are largely made up of mundane moments as well.”
BeReal appears to serve a similar function to some group chats Stedman already uses, he says. These are places where friends share links and are more open about the details of their lives, where not every photo has to be polished.