[App Friday] Only allowing one post per day, BeReal helps avoid social media FOMO

Started in 2020 in France, BeReal lets you post only once a day at a random time. The app currently has over one million downloads on Google Play Store.
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Social media has become the new-age opium of the masses. Scrolling videos at length, picking up fights online, or looking at photos clicked through a filter—social media tends to have an other-worldly effect on us, airbrushing our expectation of reality. 

According to research published by the University of Washington this year, many of us tend to enter a disassociative state while browsing through social media. 

With the algorithms of Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook designed in a way to keep us hooked to these apps, the imbalance between perception and reality will only become more skewed. 

BeReal. app comes at a time when the awareness around how social media functions is on the rise. An antithesis of conventional social apps, BeReal’s mission is to inject social media feeds with a dose of reality. 

The France-based app sends a notification at a random time every day, prompting users to post a picture while going about their daily lives. The app allows users a couple of minutes to post the pictures using the front as well as the back camera, however, photos from internal storage cannot be uploaded.

Started in 2020 by Alexis Barreyat, who earlier used to work at GoPro, and Kévin Perreau, BeReal currently has over one million downloads and a 4-star rating on Google Play Store.  

How does it work?

On downloading BeReal, the social app gives you a quick brief on what the app has to offer, but you also have the option to skip it. 

After signing up using your first name, date of birth, and mobile phone number, the app verifies your contact details. However, it doesn’t need an email ID to sign up. 

Credit: YourStory Design

The app then allows you to create a user name as well as add friends. These could be from your phone contact list, which you can choose not to share. Once your profile is created, you can choose to keep it public or private. 

Designed with a black and white user interface, the app sends you a notification as soon as you log in. When you click on it, a timer starts to roll for two minutes—prompting you to take a picture of what you’re doing. While taking a picture, both—your phone’s front and back cameras—are in use. So, for instance, if you are taking a selfie, your back camera will capture the view of the other side, showing all that you might be up to.

You also have the option of taking more than one photo, but only within the given time limit. The picture then gets archived in your profile, which can be accessed by clicking on the profile icon in the top-right corner of the screen. 

The profile shows you your name and username, and also the pictures you might have clicked in the last 14 days, under ‘Your Memories’

The app only sends one notification every day. So, in case you miss out on clicking on the notification or delete it by mistake, as this writer did, you’ll get to post only the next day. 

Similar to Instagram reels, you can also start following people (if they’ve kept their profile public) from different geographies by going on the ‘Discovery’ section. 

Here, you can scroll and discover people posting about their day-to-day lives and going about doing their mundane activities. A few profiles had pictures of random streets, unmade beds, classrooms, ceiling fans, crowded commutes, and even one of their fingers covering the back camera. 

Credit: YourStory Design

You could also react to these pictures only by creating ‘RealMojis’. BeReal does not give you the option to like or dislike, however, you can use any other kind of emojis available on other apps. To create RealMojis, you click on one of the given reactions, which activates your front camera to click a picture. 

You can only comment on people’s posts once they accept your request. 

Verdict

BeReal is like a breath of fresh air in the social media world, where posts are often embellished, staged, and prepared for days before posting. 

The good thing about the app is that it does not let you upload pictures from your gallery. This pushes a user to post candid and real pictures about themselves or their surroundings. Also, posting once a day helps avoid thinking about what your next post should be, taking away the urge to check your phone every few minutes. 

Scrolling through the Discovery section is a delight as well. The candid and natural pictures of people's expressions versus what they are looking at can be quite funny. Pictures of scenic landscapes can be quite surprising as users don’t have the option to apply filters. 

BeReal, while having a clean user interface, also has certain glitches. The app, at times, does not post your reactions even though the picture might have been clicked and saved.

Since many social media users, including this writer, are used to posting a few times a day, it’s advisable to not skip the brief. 

Also, the app doesn’t offer a recourse when you miss posting a picture or delete the notification—something that can annoy active users. While BeReal may be a direct competitor of Instagram, other projects like word game Wordle also allow users to engage once a day.

Edited by Kanishk Singh