Seriously, people can be authentic online? I put the BeReal app to the test and ended up loving it

SINGAPORE — As I sat on my porcelain throne in the bathroom one Friday morning, I let out a groan, not because I was constipated, but because a notification rang on my cell phone.

It told me I had two minutes to post two pictures taken by my phone’s front and back cameras at the same time in the name of social media authenticity.

See, just the day before I started using this mobile application called BeReal – touted as the anti-Instagram.

More than 10 million of its active users received a simultaneous notification once a day at a random time to post a picture on BeReal within two minutes, leaving barely enough time to fix their hair and strike a pose.

Following nature’s call, I faced a dilemma: live with the shame of posting my photos late for the day, or take a selfie of myself in the midst of my toilet activity.

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I decided to post after two minutes and later took a selfie of myself brushing my teeth – at least some of my dignity would remain.

BeReal was launched in late 2019 by its French creators, Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau. It’s a social media tool intended for those who are tired of all the posers appearing online too much. BeReal wants the authentic you, without filters, cropping, photo editing and touch-ups.

After the warning goes away, take a picture and post it for your friends to see. Or repeat it within two minutes.

Once you’ve created your daily post, you can view your friends’ posts as well.

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However, once the notification arrives the next day, their previous posts are no longer accessible, so no “profile stalking” can be done through BeReal.

You will not be penalized for posting late if you post after the two minute grace period, aside from having to live with the shame of having your post marked late.

Having at least 10 friends on the app also gives you the added benefit of being able to see how many replays your friends made before posting.

The app has taken Gen-Zers by storm while other social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are making their own versions of BeReal.

My editors and I were skeptical. Can and should we be really authentic online, I asked myself.

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For this article, I offered to try the app for two weeks.

One editor joked, “Teens want a nosy in-law to bug them (to take a picture) every day.”

In fact, BeReal felt more like a nuisance for the first few days.

I was constantly nervous and waiting for the notification to ring because I didn’t want to be late with the post and be seen as inauthentic and I didn’t want to take the time to embellish my photo with makeup, among other things.

Then, as I started to get the hang of it, I couldn’t help but wish the warning would come when I had something more exciting up my sleeve.

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