BeReal: Why Gen Z is obsessed with this new social media app

The new social media app taking Gen Z by storm is aiming to bring back unfiltered authenticity.
PHOTO: Unsplash

Let's get real: there's no shortage of social media apps these days, with each one offering users a different experience. Instagram, for example, is the go-to for posting pristine and curated snaps, while TikTok is where one can discover viral trends through short videos.

While different in experience, what these platforms have in common is the constant pressure on its users to appear polished and picture-perfect. But now, there's a new app on the market that's encouraging the exact opposite. Enter: BeReal. 

Launched in 2020 by French entrepreneur Alexis Barreyat, a former employee of GoPro, the social media app has recently been taking off, especially amongst Gen Zs.

BeReal has replaced TikTok as the number one free app in the Apple App Store in the US; in Singapore, the app ranks number eight in the social networking category. It has also been downloaded more than one million times from the Google Play store.  

But what is BeReal and how does the app differ from the myriad of social media apps out there? And most importantly, how does it work?

What exactly is BeReal? 

PHOTO: BeReal

Let's start with what BeReal is not – the app "won't make you famous", the company's app store description notes, adding in dry French wit that "if you want to become an influencer you can stay on TikTok and Instagram".

Instead, BeReal, which describes itself as "a new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life", aims to promote authenticity whilst dismissing the obsession with perfection within an increasingly filtered world of social media.

Billed as the antithesis of Instagram, the app's mission is to make its users post candid and filter-free content without them over-analysing each picture.

How does BeReal work? 

PHOTO: BeReal

Currently available for iPhone and Android users, BeReal works by sending you a push notification at a random time each day.

From there, you have two minutes to snap a photo and upload it (either publicly, or just for friends) in its rawest form without filters or edits.

The idea? To allow one a peek into your everyday life as opposed to a curated highlight reel.

When you snap a photo of your surroundings, the app simultaneously takes a photo with the front-facing camera. The captured selfie appears as a smaller image within your main photo (you can also swap the two so that your selfie is the main image).

Taking a decent photo with both your front and back cameras at the same time is no easy feat, which is likely part of the authentic energy that the app is trying to capture.

All the photos captured cannot be manipulated or edited in any way, although there is the option to retake the photos within the two minute deadline.

For those who miss the deadline, their uploads will be marked with a '[X] hours late' tag, so people will know that the photo wasn't taken immediately.

What else is there to BeReal? 

PHOTO: BeReal

Rather than a typical like button that's found on apps like Instagram and TikTok, BeReal allows you to react to other people's posts with RealMojis, which are variations of selfies that you've posted on the app.

There's also a Discovery feed, where you can discover peeks of everyday lives from people around the world. BeReal also keeps all your daily snaps under Memories, so you can go back and view a certain post whenever you wish to.

Why is BeReal popular? 

PHOTO: BeReal

It's not hard to see why BeReal has been gaining traction.

Amidst the flurry of sleek social media posts that sets unrealistic standards of life, BeReal's main gist, which forces you to post in the moment – no matter if you're lounging in bed or running an errand – allows its users to feel validated by the normalcy of other people's lives.

The surge of interest in this algorithm- and ad-free app also comes at a time where social media users are increasingly disappointed with the recent slew of updates to what was previously the most popular social media app, Instagram.

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The app has been diluting its essence by adopting features such as Stories and Reels from other popular apps like Snapchat and TikTok.

Already, Instagram is rolling out a new function called Dual, which bears a striking visual resemblance to BeReal.

Currently available on Reels, Dual enables simultaneous recording with both the front and rear cameras, which allows one to capture both their content and ration at the same time.

While it's still too early to tell whether BeReal will be here to stay long-term, especially with Instagram starting to duplicate certain features, the app is an intriguing concept with its attempt to foster authenticity.

Are you joining the hype?

This article was first published in Her World Online.