Is The BeReal App The Answer To Social Media Fatigue?

ILLUSTRATED BY KRISTINE ROMANO.
Social media fatigue is real. The laundry list of social media apps' wrongdoings is endless. Body image issues, problematic sex worker stances, unfair censorship standards, and casual political scandals and data breaches are all too commonplace in the world of social networking sites.
Almost 80% of Australians are active on social media, so these problems are all our problems. It's no wonder there's been a clawing back to simpler times — 'casual' Instagram, photo dumps and talk of a Tumblr resurgence have kept us active on the apps.
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This fatigue has transpired into viewing social media as a burden that we might consider quitting or detoxing from. We talk about social media in terms that are commonplace with addiction — and rightfully so.
Instead of waiting on these old faithfuls to woo us with their updates and algorithm changes, there are new social media platforms emerging that are trying their hand at the game.
Photos via BeReal app.
One such app is BeReal, a platform that brands themselves as "not another social network". Curated, edited content has become synonymous with social media, but BeReal want to change that and bring true authenticity to online interactions.
BeReal is about spontaneity; every day at a different time, the app gives all users a two minute window to share a photo. Its unique technology captures two photos with the front and back camera concurrently, sharing the moment with a user's 'friends'.
There are no filters, no 'likes', no followers. "BeReal won't make you famous, if you want to become an influencer you can stay on TikTok and Instagram," the app plainly says. Instead, users can react with 'RealMojis' — your personalised selfie versions of emojis.
Some users are pointing to its similarities with Snapchat — the 'lofi' aesthetic isn't anything completely new. While the app is heavily focused on photos that aren't curated, many people still feel pressure to post something that's "not boring".
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How are Aussie users finding the app? Refinery29 Australia spoke to three women who have given BeReal a try.

Jade, 21

21-year-old Jade was introduced to the app by a couple of friends at dinner. "They said [BeReal] is super new, fun and casual. I got it then [and] I really like it! It helps me keep in touch with people because I can drop a comment about what they’re doing," she says. "It's so low effort and often pretty funny."

Tilda, 23

For 23-year-old Tilda, the drawcard is the app's spontaneity and casualness, but she suggests that its popularity might be short-lived.
"I like that it’s always completely unplanned because you don’t know when the notification will come. I also like that my friends and I tend to take the mickey out of ourselves and post silly photos rather than the usual manicured nature of social media," she shares. "I think the idea is great but it seems to be a bit of fun that will likely die down pretty soon!"

Imogen, 19

The quirk of the app ended up wearing off for 19-year-old Imogen. "I tried to use it as a fun way to keep in touch with long-distance friends but it ended up feeling like a chore — if I wanted to actually talk to my friends I would text or FaceTime. It ended up just being kind of inconvenient as I wasn’t always free in the timeframe I had to do the photo ([I'd be] working or in class)," she says.
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BeReal was founded in 2020 and is currently eighth in the social networking app chart, with no signs of slowing down just yet. In March 2021, it had 10,000 daily users. Fast forward to today, there are more than 400,000.
It's clear that social media users have been dissatisfied with what's been handed to us — you needn't look further than Facebook which lost half a million daily users at the end of 2021.
But can you fight fire with fire? Is a new social media platform the answer to this never-ending digital whirlpool of anxiety, content saturation and increased screen time?
Let's be real.
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