I tried BeReal, the Instagram alternative, and I can not see the hype

Will this new app change the way we use social media? (Image: Getty / AFP / Metro.co.uk)

BeReal is the new social media app that has taken the world by storm, and it currently ranks first on Apple’s Top Free Apps’ in the UK.

The app even popped up Elon Musk’s tweet complained that Donald Trump’s Truth Social overtook Twitter and TikTok in the App Store.

The app claims to be ‘Not another social network’ by discouraging filters and capturing life as it is.

Every day at a different time, BeReal also notifies its users to take and share a photo – the catch is that you only have two minutes to do so. So of course there is no time to find the best angles, lighting or filter.

I decided to give the supposed anti-Instagram app a go to see what the fuss was about.

As a self-proclaimed Insta addict who spends an average of three hours a day on the photo sharing app, I was open to checking out an app that promised no filters or curation.

My first disappointment was that no one I knew was with. So if you are over 25, it can be hard to find those ‘friends’ that the app wants you to share your true self with.

Be realistic

BeReal’s simultaneous front and rear camera function would make sure you capture yourself in the moment (Photo: Anugraha Sundaravelu)

‘2 minutes left to catch a BeReal and see what your friends are up to!’ asked for a notification on my home screen.

It was 10.23am on a Thursday, so I can safely assume that most of my friends are at work, either from their homes or offices. What else would a thief do on a weekday morning?

Nevertheless, I complied with it and uploaded a picture of my face and what was in front of me, which more often than not was my laptop.

BeReal’s simultaneous front and rear camera function would make sure you captured yourself in your immediate surroundings so people could see your authentic self.

If I learned anything from spending two weeks on BeReal, it’s that I’m never away from my phone. When the message appeared, no matter what time of day, I would faithfully answer the call as my phone was never out of my reach.

This made me think about how much I was addicted to this device, but did BeReal really capture who I was? I do not think.

When I looked through the ‘Memories’ section of the app, similar to Instagram’s history archive, what I saw was in contrast to the image of myself I had in my head.

Looking through my Instagram and Snapchat stories over the same two weeks gave me a whole different version of my life (Photo: Anugraha Sundaravelu)

While I saw myself as someone who loved his job, went to the gym often enough and had a social life enough, BeReal told me I was a lonely workaholic with an unhealthy relationship with my laptop.

Most of the times I got the message I was at work; writing away on my laptop, on my bed, on the couch, in the office.

Save for the two days I went on vacation over The Easter holidays really pointed out BeReal’s everyday life.

This is its biggest flaw in the concept of capturing your true self. When you do not time it right, it can be just like capturing random moments in your life – imperceptibly.

I use my Instagram as a kind of photo album, go back and look at happy memories, surrounded by friends, alone, on a beach, at home with my family.

Be realistic

Aside from the two days I took on vacation during the Easter holidays, BeReal really pointed out the everyday life of everyday life (Photo: Anugraha Sundaravelu)

Looking through my BeReal memories did not give me that joy. Just the feeling of an app really trying to make a point. Yes, this was a notification to capture my life as it was, but did I really want it?

I want to be able to revel in the good times and look back at my history archive of things that made me laugh and moments I wish I could relive.

Looking through my Instagram and Snapchat stories over the same two weeks gave me a whole different version of my life.

Unlike my BeReal memories with the gremlin version of myself bent over a laptop, I saw evidence of blurry nights, aesthetic meals, beautiful sunsets, dogs, I looked at the tube and even some vain but post-worthy selfies.

Unless they live off social media, people more or less end up showing off their lives as it is on existing apps, at least on their stories.

BeReal told me I was a lonely workaholic with an unhealthy relationship with my laptop (Image: BeReal / Anugraha Sundaravelu)

BeReal also has the ability to share your unfiltered moment on other social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter, so the idea does not seem to be to turn off the other words but to add to it.

Its best feature, though, is the Discovery section, where you can look into people’s lives as they go about their daily lives.

A surprising number of them are people like me with their laptops and cluttered rooms, but there are also people who are in the middle of the hairstyle in the salon, in the middle of the class and out with their friends.

There is no aesthetics here, just a collection of poorly timed selfies and awful angles. Still, BeReal may be on its way to something, especially with the Gen Z audience.

But for people who grew up on top of social photo sharing, this is probably something they can do without. So again, at least I did not go down without explaining myself first.

Moreover, BeReal’s user interface is still a bit skewed and does not have the same ease of use as other social media apps do. Its unique features like responding to an image with a ‘Realmoji’ do not feel as organic as just double-clicking to ‘like’.

In a post-Instagram world, this could be a star app for social media, but it’s still unknown if it can keep its growing user base and get those interested enough to keep going.

There’s a reason we like to cure our lives so friends and family can see it on Instagram. We know when we are in the middle of a good memory and trying to capture it. For more spontaneous photo sharing, Snapchat is a close second option.

BeReal is less appealing to me because it does not give me the dopamine rush that all the apps that make money on my attention probably do. Maybe I’m just a well-trained monkey for the instant gratification loop that Big Tech has trained me for.

But I’ve taken a break from Instagram more than once, and it’s something I know I can choose to do. It’s also nice to have the opportunity to share what I want and when.

Ultimately, it is the choice that makes living our online lives an enjoyable experience.

Have you tried BeReal? Tell us how your experiences have been in the comments below.

MORE: BeReal: A new unfiltered social media app or another false view of reality?

MORE: You may soon be able to attach Instagram posts to your profile

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.