BeReal social media app offers students simplicity and spontaneity


Photo courtesy of JoJo Holm

Weinberg sophomore JoJo Holm snaps a BeReal picture with a dog. Users can look back on their previous BeReal posts to reflect on old memories.

Russell Leung, Assistant Campus Editor

If it seems like students in the dining hall or library often all take out their phones and excitedly snap selfies at the same time, it’s likely not a coincidence. They aren’t experiencing mass brainwashing: they’re using BeReal, a social media app founded in 2020. 

As its name suggests, BeReal encourages users to show a more authentic version of themselves on its platform. At a random time every day, the app sends a mass notification to users to post a front- and rear-facing picture of their surroundings within two minutes. Users must post to see their friends’ BeReals — although they can upload late photos if they missed the initial window — and can react with a selfie or comment.

Bienen sophomore Otto Vogel said BeReal is a good way to stay connected with his friends’ daily lives. The low-commitment and casual format of the app makes it fun, he said.

“It’s like (a) no judgment zone,” Vogel said. “You’re just hanging out, seeing what people are doing.”

Since the BeReal notification appears at a different time daily, what users post every day can drastically vary. Vogel said the app frequently alerts him while he’s in classes or music rehearsals, and he has also woken up from naps to see the missed notification.

Students said they especially appreciate when BeReal pops up during a noteworthy part of their day. Although the app often captures her while she is working, Weinberg sophomore JoJo Holm said she gets tired of posting pictures of herself and her computer screen.

Still, Holm said at least one of her friends usually uploads an interesting BeReal every day. She has also seized opportunities to make fun posts.

“I was volunteering at the animal shelter because I volunteer every Thursday evening, and the BeReal popped up and I was so excited,” Holm said. “I got to take a picture with one of my dogs because I was on a walk with her.”

Medill freshman Kelly Rappaport said she most enjoys taking group pictures with her friends. They sometimes get creative with the delay between the front and rear photos, she said, like by using the time gap to crop themselves out of the photos and make it seem like no one is there. She said she also uses the app to catch up with her friends from home.

One of Rappaport’s favorite parts of BeReal is the ability to look back on past snapshots and reflect on memories. She said she typically reviews her archive every month, as well as whenever she needs a boost.

“If I’m having a bad day,” Rappaport said, “I can go look and see, ‘Oh yeah, well maybe this day sucks. But these days were all really great, and that’ll come again soon.’”

Another benefit of BeReal is that its feed is short and finite, Rappaport said, which prevents her from endlessly scrolling and wasting time.

Holm said BeReal is similar to what Instagram might have been like when it first launched, because posts are impromptu and users aren’t as performative. That lack of expectations, she said, helps the platform avoid the negativity of most other social media platforms.

“You’re not putting anything on display for people you only sort of know,” Holm said. “You’re really just sharing a moment of your day with the people who matter most.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @rjleung7

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