BeReal, Social Media’s savior, or newest oppressor?

I’m checking messages on Linkedin on my phone when the BeReal notification pops.

*2 minutes to post on BeReal*

I’m sitting at my home office desk, looking at an endless list of Full Stack Engineers. It is neither interesting nor informative, funny nor shocking. I take the picture of the screen, and it simultaneously takes a picture with my front-facing camera showing my bedraggled face as I desperately try to make a recruitment contract work so I can make rent.

There, it’s sent. Now I can see what other people are up to. Someone’s at work. This guy is at the Gym. Someone else is… are they on the toilet?

Indeed they were. And that’s the point. At a random interval of each day. Users have 2 minutes to post exactly what they are doing.

A revelation is sweeping the world. A revelation that 99% of other people’s lives are exactly the same as our own: work, gym, games, eating, bathrooms, lying down, and being present in various uninteresting places.

It reminds me of the early days of social media. Before the influencers and the marketing firms and the corporations started manipulating algorithms to their own gain. And if I’m honest, I wasn’t interested in Social media then, nor was I interested in what BeReal is pushing now… Or so I thought

But it’s not about me. See this could be just what social media needs. We have lived over a decade of curated socials from celebrities who can afford photographers and PR managers to take care of that for them. From influencers who manipulate their digital narratives to make their lives seem interesting enough to get us to follow them, so they can push products on us to make money.

Recently, I’ve had to use LinkedIn for work. What an exhaustive platform of endless and relentless networking. BeReal has given me a pleasant respite from all that. Seeing the mundane again makes a refreshing change from bathroom mirror selfies and bare legs at beaches. It reminds me that the world online is not just there to make me feel bad because I’m not traveling or working out, clubbing, or being a success. Because frankly, I am basically just a lump of mass slowly aging. No one cares about that. But there is something oddly reassuring in seeing other people enjoy the same respite.

I see BeReal going one of three ways. The first is that very quickly, people realise that life is not that interesting. And it dies. social media has not been real for so long, that like those in Plato’s cave, we are happy to crawl back into the dark to watch the shadows on the walls. This I feel is the most likely outcome.

Or, it becomes an ever-greater oppressor of social media users. Influencers, desperate to keep an image alive, wait eagerly for the notification, only to spring to life to make their followers believe a narrative of their own construction. Like actors driving in films; the road is straight, yet they turn the wheel side to side. The result of convincing followers that at any given two-minute mark in the day, these people are engaging in activities that are the envy of the rest of us, will push the social media simulacrum to an even greater extreme. More pressure will get put on users to be interesting, and thus a fascinating race to the bottom will begin.

Lastly, there is the hopeful option. That social media users begin to comprehend the fallacy of social media, that it is anything but, and BeReal makes them accept the more mundane beauty of life without the trappings of “influencerdom”, the hold Instagram and TikTok have on people fades, and humanity takes its first step towards a healthier relationship with their digital counterparts.

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