I first heard about BeReal during my trip to Mexico over Easter Break, where some of the other members of the tour group told me about it. They were from the UK, and I think it must be a more common social media platform there, whereas I get the sense that it is just catching on in North America. I was instantly interested in BeReal because of its unique design/premise, which favours authenticity and real life moments, rather than the highly-edited and curated feeds one typically sees on other social media platforms.
Being interested in this platform, I told the members of my tour group that I would sign up for a BeReal account when I got back home and follow them on it. They were my only 2 friends on the app, so I soon got tired of the app and my posts dwindled away. I jumped back into this app for this week’s blog prompt.
How BeReal Works:
The app sends you a notification at some point during the day (you don’t know when this will occur), and then you have 2 minutes to post your BeReal for the day. This post is intended to be a snapshot of whatever you are doing at the time the notification goes off; BeReal posts include both a selfie and a picture of wherever you are/what is in front of you at the time. You can react to others’ posts with RealMojis, which are snapshots of your own face showing the different reactions (thumbs up, laughing, etc.). You can also comment on others’ posts, give your BeReal a caption, and view your BeReal memories from previous days. As an incentive to post on time, users are allowed to post additional BeReals if their first is completed within 2 minutes of the notification going off for the day. I don’t remember this being a feature when I first started using BeReal in April – so either it is new, or I totally missed this option!
- BeReal is original and goes against the filtered/edited nature of various other social media platforms – I love the idea of being more ‘real’ online and giving others a glimpse into your unpolished, true life
- it’s easy to set up an account
- RealMojis is an interesting concept that is unique to BeReal
- you can easily add contacts you already know right in the app
- this app encourages your notifications to be on and for you to have your phone with you at all times (which is not my style at all, so this aspect misses the mark for me)
- there doesn’t seem to be any easily-recognizable home page or place for notifications, which (to me) makes the app feel strange to navigate
- this app is not common among my friends yet, so there is a lack of people to follow (I reached out to classmates in this course on Twitter to get a few more people on my feed)
- legal and ethical privacy concerns for posting at work (especially as a teacher)
- there is a Discovery tab, which is just a feed of random people’s BeReals (not your friends); I am not personally interested in this at all
- apparently, there is a way to see how many times someone has re-taken their BeReal picture, but I haven’t noticed that anywhere yet (maybe all of my friends are first-snap people?)
- the app will tell you how late someone was posting their BeReal for the day (the members of my tour group told me that it is always funny to see people who have posted 5 hours late, and then their BeReal shows them doing something cool – it sends the message that they waited to post so they could show something interesting, which is really missing the whole point of BeReal)
Applications for Educational Use:
Nothing immediately came to mind for useful applications of BeReal in the classroom. Because the app is so time-sensitive (and dependent on notifications being enabled), I don’t see how it would work to use in real-time in the classroom. However, a BeReal inspired project (that doesn’t actually use the app itself, but the concept of it) did come to mind for a history/art project. Students could depict an important event in history as a BeReal. This involves students considering what the person would have looked like during the event, and what they would have seen in front of them in that moment. This same concept could also be used for a novel study or literature project, with students depicting book events and characters as BeReals.
Implications for Youth:
For me, BeReal as a platform can have both positive and negative effects on youth. I appreciate that the intentions behind the app are stepping outside the norm of social media and encouraging people to share their real selves. It gives me hope that future generations won’t be bogged down by unrealistic expectations and pressure to be a certain way.
However, perhaps this push to ‘be real’ is a double-edged sword. Do we really want to share every last detail of our lives with the internet? RoxAnne pointed out in her blog post that this could be potentially dangerous if people online know exactly where you are and what you are doing.
In addition, isn’t there a kind of security that comes with having a real-life self and an on online self, and they don’t necessarily have to be one and the same? I, personally, like having distance between my online and offline selves, and I don’t want youth feeling that they have to share everything with everyone. I also believe it is an important social skill for youth to learn what is appropriate to share in different contexts; if we share everything online, then we aren’t practicing these social norms.
Furthermore, I dislike the message BeReal is sending by: a) encouraging its users to constantly be near their phone and listening for a notification, and b) rewarding those who did so. This, to me, is an unhealthy relationship with technology that could be harmful.
At the end of the day, I don’t see myself continuing to use BeReal regularly. While I love the concept of authenticity and literally “being real,” the time-sensitive and notification-dependent nature of this app doesn’t appeal to me or work for my personal technology-use boundaries I have in place.
Until next time,