Nyiah Gesink — Staff Writer
On a Thursday at the beginning of the year, a group of students trickles into room 267. Howard Schaap, English professor, stands fiddling with the cords on his desk, trying to reacquaint himself with the technology. Before Schaap can begin his lesson, a sound like the jingle of bells rings from various phones around the room.
The collective notification: “Time to BeReal: 2 min left to capture a BeReal and see what your friends are up to!”
“Hey Schaap, wanna be in my BeReal?” English and secondary education major Teresa Taylor said.
“Uh, sure,” Schaap said. “I don’t know what that is but sure!”
Launched in December 2019, the app BeReal simultaneously notifies every user at random times of the day. Once the message has been sent, users have two minutes to post. If someone doesn’t make the time constraint, they don’t get to see the posts their friends have made. That is, unless they want to post a late BeReal and suffer the shame associated with late posts.
“I hate posting after the time has run out because then people think that I waited till I was doing something interesting to post,” Emily Alons, a psychology major, said. “But really I just hadn’t had time and still wanted to see what everyone else was up to.”
The app has no filters and limited retakes. It captures photos from both the front and back cameras of the phone.
Opening the app, users are met with a wide range of posts: a selfie accompanied by unaware business majors shoving Defenders into their mouths at the Grille, a stack of chemistry homework followed by a girl with tired eyes and a thumbs up, a snap of the student section with the Defenders football team in their first huddle of the year.
BeReal doesn’t care if you’re sleeping, working, or in class. They want to see it.
“It’s exciting, waiting for the notification to go off and then seeing what everyone is up to at the time,” Alons said.
The idea of the app is in direct opposition to most social media apps in use today. In fact, the app has come to be referred to as the “anti-social media” app.
Apps such as Instagram and TikTok are infamous for allowing people to show off the best part of a person’s life. With filters that can completely change facial features, expectations of perfection, and a knack for showing off only the positive sides of people, typical social media apps tend to create an inauthentic atmosphere.
Social media apps have been overdue for a reboot. BeReal’s fresh take on social media encourages people to reveal both good and bad days— their exciting Fridays and mundane Tuesdays.
“I don’t see it as encouraging people to be fake, at least not any more than everything else in life,” Taylor said.
BeReal downloads have increased drastically in the year 2022 alone. As of April, the app had been downloaded 7.67 million times. By September, the app had accumulated 28 million downloads and counting, according to an article by Abby Sklencar, Content Specialist at Online Optimism. BeReal is climbing the charts, finding itself ranked the number one free app for phones.
Its popularity leaves users wondering if this refreshing change will bleed into other social apps as well.
“It’s fun,” Taylor said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just another social media app.”