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It's time to ⚠️BeReal⚠️: The Rise of the Anti Social Media

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

It's time to ⚠️BeReal⚠️


Seriously.


Every day it seems there is a new "next big thing" in social media. Recently, BeReal is making a name for itself and has skyrocketed in popularity among Gen Z by marketing itself as the "anti social media". With a mission to make social media and online profiles more authentic, the app distributes a notification at a random time each day and users are encouraged to post a photo within 2 minutes of the notification or else be deemed "late". The goal is to capture a real moment in each user's day that they are able to share authentically with their friends. No filters. No staging. No B.S.


But is BeReal actually able to achieve that goal? The term "anti social media" implies that this app boasts to have everything positive about social media without the negatives. By this definition, BeReal should have the ability to connect users to their friends, start a conversation, build social networks, and more. It can easily be argued that BeReal does have the ability to do all that. However, the platform strays from its goal when it comes to the negative aspects of social media, falling into the same traps it was created to eliminate.


Social media is often cited with having the following cons:

  • Pushing exclusivity based on trends

  • Being addictive

  • Causing distractions during important moments

  • Facilitating a false sense of reality through editing/staging/filters

  • Creating FOMO (fear of missing out)


By default, BeReal creates a group of the "other" - people who are not users of the app. This translates into exclusivity as BeReal becomes more of a trend - "Did you see what Erin posted on BeReal? Oh right, you aren't on it, never mind". Exclusivity is extremely easy to create when it comes to trends because if everyone is doing it then why aren't you? If a group of "other" is automatically created by the platform's existence as it is with any social platform, it is all too easy to begin to sort each other into groups and excluding one another, even if it's not intentional.


A big contributor to social media addiction is notifications. Studies have shown that this is partially due to the dopamine produced in a person's brain every time a notification pops up. The BeReal platform runs on the receipt of a notification that comes at a random time each day to prompt an action. Throughout the day there is anticipation for that receipt, excitement for what a person could be doing when the notification goes off that they can share with their friends. This notification is the peak of that anticipation and the reward. It's a Pavlov-esque technique that contributes to social media addiction through dopamine creation.


As a result of BeReal notifications having addictive qualities, BeReal can become distracting. Social media in class, social media while driving, social media at work - it's a distraction. If the notification goes off at the wrong time, as it can at any time, it can cause a very dangerous distraction for someone looking for that hit of dopamine they've craved all day.


The primary problem that BeReal is trying to solve is the lack of authenticity on social media platforms. The reason that there is a lack of "realness" on social media is because social users in the past have received praise, money, and attention for faking situations, looks, and more. Unfortunately, we are already seeing a trend with BeReal that consists of users sharing shocking or outrageous BeReals on Tik Tok or elsewhere, prompting a viral response. This content over users posting BeReals at funerals or in courtrooms or similar situations goes viral because users receive praise for being shocking. Although seemingly these situations have been real thus far, it cannot be a far jump to assume that soon people could begin going to extreme lengths to fabricate situations for BeReals.


Perhaps the most serious consequence that BeReal could have is in creating and reinforcing FOMO, the fear of missing out. As mentioned previously, a platform automatically creates an "other" group. In the case of BeReal, there is also an excluded group created that we have already seen - late posters. Tweets stating things like "Why is it so embarrassing to post a late BeReal" and "What is the point of having a BeReal if you're posting late?" and "FYI I judge you if you post your BeReal late" can quickly be found by going into twitter and searching 'BeReal late'. Although these tweets are clearly humorous, there is still an "other" group that's been created and even jokingly shamed.


Although BeReal is a fun concept and another unique social media platform to explore and develop, the term "anti social media" isn't necessarily accurate. With all the positives AND the negatives, BeReal seems to just be another social media but a very unique and exciting trend nonetheless.

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