Ahnia Aflaki (12) captures the lively action of Friday Night Lights in her BeReal post. BeReal utilizes many unique features allowing users to capture random moments of their day with friends, which will remain stored in a calendar that one can reflect on at any time.

For her post, Ana Enriquez (12) poses with Kelsi Sharkey (11) for her front-facing camera picture, and Noah Canny (12) in the rear-camera picture. These aspects of BeReal have allowed many to capture random moments of their day with friends, which will remain stored in a calendar that one can reflect on at any time. (ANA ENRIQUEZ//USED WITH PERMISSION)

An epidemic is spreading. However, while illnesses and viruses loom over the physical world, this mass outbreak threatens to take the digital realm, flooding the media with contagens such as filtering and photo editing instead. And the symptoms are severe: depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, heightened insecurities — while on the surface this phenomenon seems picturesque and perfect, the deep scars that the new, fast-paced world of social media can wrought tell a story far more gruesome than ones frequently found on Instagram and Facebook. 

But, with every virus comes the cure. BeReal is not an instant fix for the filter epidemic, but it represents an important step in the right direction towards challenging the beauty standards of social media and the subsequent insecurities that follow.

“When looking at perfect Instagram pictures, it can make you really self-conscious and make you realize that you might not be doing as much as these other people are doing … whereas BeReal shows what people do in their daily life and maybe how similar theirs is to yours,” Gavin Williamson (10) said. “It shows what people are actually about rather than just what they want themselves to look like, which allows further insight into their personality … and how they actually like to spend their time.”

As the empire of social media continues to expand, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of perfect photos and glamorous filters. For some, BeReal provides a sense of relief and an environment that feels more comfortable — a sense of genuineness replacing the fake photos that many social media platforms instigate. 

“I think [BeReal is] a good way to not look for filters because it’s just like a picture, it’s showing what you’re doing in the moment,” Ana Enriquez (12) said. “It’s definitely helped me realize that I don’t need filters to feel good about myself, I don’t need filters to feel pretty.”

One clear function of BeReal rests in the name — to be real. When the notification for BeReal goes off, posting what is going on at that moment allows many users to feel more like themselves than other social media platforms do. As an added bonus, it gives some a level of anticipation to the day and a little rush of adrenaline when the time has finally come to BeReal. 

“I feel like, when it’s real, it’s like I feel most myself, and I feel comfortable,” Bethany Roberts (10) said. “[I]t adds a bit of spontaneity into your life because you have to do it right then and there, so I think it just makes things more exciting.”

In addition to the energy surrounding posting, BeReal also allows users to react to friends’ posts in a different way than many apps — a spontaneous picture with the front-facing camera to capture one’s genuine response, adding to the levels of authenticity this app promotes. 

“It gives more freedom with things like being able to do your own reactions instead of [being] constricted to certain emojis or saying things,” Williamson said. “You can take pictures of other things and react to them that way.”

However, not only are users able to capture their lives and react to the lives of those around them in an instant, but BeReal also keeps these moments in a calendar, which gives one the ability to look back through the weeks and eventually even years to see not a filtered, altered version of reality, but the genuine activities taking place on a specific day, helping users to stay in touch with their authentic selves. 

“I think it’s like a socializing thing where if you’re with your friends and it goes off at the same time you’re taking pictures, … it saves them to a little calendar so you can go back and look at all the little memories you have, and it helps people show their real selves, not the usual Instagram-perfect pictures,” Enriquez said. 

Given all the features BeReal employs, not only does the app provide many with a window into the realistic lives of themselves and those around them, but also serves as an example — the first line of defense in an ever-present conflict with insecurities surrounding filtered media. Ultimately, it is the idea that BeReal allows users to capture their genuine selves, whether it be in the middle of a roaring football game or staring quietly at the ceiling, that completes the allure to this fledgling application in the world of social media. 

“I think they should lower filtering because it’s not exactly toxic but it’s like you’re being pushed to look a certain way and that’s why you decide to use filters because you want to go with what society says you have to be,” Enriquez said. “Overall, BeReal has really helped people come in contact with their true self and separate from the society’s filters and needing to be like everybody else.”