BeReal: The Facade of Performative Authenticity


The Journalism class poses for a (staged) BeReal while they taste test donuts for a food review article.

by Anelina Alegre, Editor-in-Chief

Social media has long been a contest that is detrimental to insecurities like body dysmorphia, cyberbullying, and social competition. BeReal, a rising social media platform, is aiming to challenge the social norms of mainstream media. 

However, though BeReal aims to break social media’s performative nature, has it really been successful? 

The app’s premise is that you can only post one photo daily, with a time limit of two minutes to snap your photo using both the back and front camera. Every user will get a notification at the same time when it’s time to “be real” and check in with a photo of what they’re doing. With this instant and unfiltered approach, BeReal is trying to show that social media doesn’t need to be perfect. Users post their BeReal anywhere, from lying in bed to their offices at work. 

However, many users are accused of “being fake.” BeReal allows you to retake your photo and even post as late as you want. Many users take advantage of these forgiving features by waiting until they do something interesting—like going to a party—before checking in on their BeReal. This defeats the app’s stated purpose; by giving users the option of staging their photos, BeReal is no longer the authentic-driven platform it professes to be.

As BeReal grew, joining the performative nature of mainstream social media was inevitable. Every social media platform has tried to find a way to be “authentic.” For example, Snapchat has its play-once feature, and Instagram users have adopted the trend of photo dumps and candid photos. As Youtuber Amanda Maryanna said in her video essay on the art of being real, this growing era of social media is “less a rejection of perfectionism and curation, but simply a different aesthetic one that thrives off the illusion of effortlessness.”

Ultimately, social media will never not be a performance. Although it’s unique, BeReal strayed from its original intended purpose. Authenticity and social media are contradictory; when one posts on social media, there will always be the intention of having an audience. The only true way to “be real” is to detach from social media itself to live fully in the present moment.