BeReal, the platform behind a new phenomenon, hit the market in 2020 but saw a 315 percent growth spike in 2022. What is this? And why?
As we continue to engross ourselves further, post-pandemic, our anxiousness to authentically be “ourselves” continues to grow. Instagram “shitposting” or the vanilla sororitified “dumps” were a clear product of this distress. Looking only at stories, the “close friends” spill. And then came this: pairs of photos, one small, embedded in the upper corner of a larger one. The harsh edges of snapshots softened into pleasant squircles.
A new media format, an anti-Instagram. It came as a form of “liberation” of the crafting behavior that came with composing an Instagram post. The constructed image was stepping its boot harder and harder on the insecure masses’ neck.
The way the app works is a simple concept: A timer engages a two-minute countdown. Upon opening the app, a photo is snapped with the front- and back-facing cameras, producing both a selfie and a reverse shot. The photo must be posted without filters. It will be visible in a feed only to a user’s “friends,” and only to those “friends” who have also posted their faces. The feed resets every 24 hours. There are no “likes.” There is only participation: the drive to see and be seen.
it’s time to ⚠️BeReal⚠️ pic.twitter.com/rpC4BAUMZj— it's me sally darr (@sallydarr) July 18, 2022
The social contract of social media is that it’s produced from real life, but no one, in their heart, believes that it’s real, or at least not anymore.
Every image that has been posted in the history of Instagram has been crafted, one way or another. They depart from the same lie of omission: selectivity, enforced by the borders of the frame.
Already experts are supporting a new limb of the machine. Take Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist, who says that “any social media app that promotes authenticity and limits the time that you’re on, in my opinion, is one that’s valuable”.
Our physical existence is shot through a virtual one and our toes are being dipped in waters of collective fantasy produced by the mutual production and exchange of selective idealizations of our lives.
The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people from expressing themselves, but rather force them to express themselves.Gilles Deleuze
A 20-year-old Taylor explains in brief what an Instagram dump is. “It’s pure vibe,” he says. “A photo dump is a collection of images that give people a sense of a mood, or feeling, more than a play-by-play of what you did,” she explains. A standard slideshow, by contrast, Taylor says, “is less about the vibe, and more about just not being able to choose which photo to post.”
There is resistance in practice between what we experience, what we feel we should say, and the meaning that is attributed to what we have said. Sure, you can curate your dump, or assemble a BeReal with eccentric marvelousness. But The consequence of this is that the complex, the Real, is suppressed (ignored and/or blocked), perpetuating an illusory ‘reality’.
Then again, Like poet Julio Cortazar says, “only in dreams, in poetry, in play do we sometimes arrive at what we were before we were this thing that, who knows, we are”.