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BeReal, BeShmeal: Is there anyone who’s actually being real?

By Adriana Fallico

If you’re reading this, stop right now. It’s time to BeReal.

That’s what it’ll sound like when it’s actually time to BeReal. Did you just jump to check your phone? If so, you’ve probably heard about this increasingly popular app that has changed the course of many students’ lives. 

BeReal is a social media app that sends notifications to users once a day at a random time, giving everyone two minutes to snap and post a photo with both the front and back camera on your phone. After roughly 24 hours, the pictures will disappear from everyone’s feed once it’s time to “be real” again. In short, this is the app that sends everyone into short-term delirium. 

That’s what it feels like when I’m hanging out with people who use this app. It’s as if the world is put on a timer and nothing else matters until everyone’s pictures are taken. Is your assignment due in a minute and 50 seconds? Guess you’ll be handing it in late as you’re busy getting your friends in the picture. In the middle of a workout? Take a break to strike a pose. Running late to class because you spent the last two hours drowning in existential dread? Say cheese! 

BeReal has turned into a daily ritual for a lot of Toronto Metropolitan University students. When the highly-anticipated notification goes off on people’s phones, the room turns into a goddamn carnival. There’s been so many times when I was chilling with a group of people, chatting about the meaning of life, when someone snaps up from their seat and screeches, “GUYS, IT’S TIME TO BEREAL!” That’s when everyone fixes their hair, jerks upright and smiles while I’m sitting here, slouched over and wondering what the point of any of this is.

“This is the app that sends everyone into short-term delirium”

I think the funniest time I’ve witnessed this was while riding the subway with a friend. Suddenly, the BeReal notification went off and she went into a crazed panic—throwing the bag she was holding into a stranger’s face. If I looked hard enough, I bet I would have seen steam flying out of her ears.

“GERTRUDE, SIT DOWN!” I whisper-shouted, trying to sit her annoying ass back down. 

“But it’s time to BeReal!” she whined, holding up a peace sign. 

“Gertrude, your bag is IN SOMEONE’S FACE. SIT DOWN.”

I could feel the entire train’s eyes on us, but she was posing like no one was watching. She started freaking out that the app was not loading while forgetting that she was underground. I told her to wait until we got off the train, but no, the picture just had to be taken now or apparently humanity as we know it would end. 

Honestly, I can see the overall appeal for BeReal’s purpose. According to Sprout Social, BeReal “focuses on authenticity and asks its users to be real.” Giving users such little time to snap a picture in the moment can be a fun way to show your followers what you are actually doing in real time. There are no filters or editing applications, which challenges users to show who they really are. For people who live far away from their friends and family, BeReal is honestly a cool way to stay connected. 

What defeats the app’s entire purpose is that people will deliberately wait to send their BeReal until they are doing something fun or worth sharing with everyone and their mom. For example, I overheard a few students the other day saying that they were going to save their BeReal for the SZA concert. Karma’s a bitch! Besides, it’s not like there’s a grand punishment for taking your picture outside the two-minute time frame, so why abide by it? 

Users can also take up to two “bonus BeReals” as long as they take the first one within the original two-minute period. This gives everyone the chance to take one photo in the moment and then snap up to two more when they’re doing something fun later. To me, this is a useless feature that BeReal could have easily gone without. 

“Take a break to strike a pose”

This begs the question—what’s real about BeReal? My answer: absolutely fucking nothing. 

To me, BeReal only proves that it’s basically impossible to be authentic on social media. It’s not like the almighty BeReal gods will damn you for life if you wait to take your picture. The most you’ll get is a side-eye from your friends. 

Personally, I could never see myself downloading BeReal. I already spend way too much time on Instagram and whatever Twitter is called now to focus on yet another app. I’m more than happy to pose comfortably in the backs of all my friends’ pictures. I guess you could say that I’m not ready to be real. 

Want one of your BeReals featured in an upcoming article by The Eye? Send in a BeReal here and show us how you’re being real this semester! 

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