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The contradiction of BeReal, the trendy social network: more authenticity, more interest, more lies?


The platform, which has experienced a growth of 315% since its launch, tries to compensate for the aesthetic excesses of Instagram with more improvised and raw images. Experts and users question that end

Alex Mutammara, a 23-year-old sales data analyst, was sitting on top of the scaffolding surrounding his New York apartment last Sunday when his iPhone sent him an alert: he had just over a minute to take two photos that would later be shared online. the BeReal social network: one photo would be with the front camera and another with the back of the mobile.

After a week of work, Mutammara wanted to unwind on his makeshift balcony overlooking Times Square, so, sitting on a small stool, he captured what calmed him down with his mobile: the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.

With the front camera he took a selfie with his headphones on, oblivious to the city below him.

In response, several of his friends sent him


of love and surprise.

More information

Dispo, Poparazzi and BeReal: the little known emerging platforms that challenge Instagram

BeReal is the trendy platform in the saturated world of social networks and the attention economy.

Created in 2020 by Alexis Barreyat, a 25-year-old French businessman tired of "the excesses of Instagram", this


wants to convince people that, more than the calculated digital aesthetics of recent years, what is worth sharing is reality as it is, without filters.

Every day, its users receive a notification: they must publish a photo taken with the front camera (what you are seeing) and front camera (how you look) and they have two minutes to do so.

The alert is unpredictable, so they try to promote digital authenticity.

Also, users can only see their friends' stories after posting theirs.

Despite its simplicity, for many people it has become an essential ingredient of their digital diet.

“If you use the app as intended, it shows what people do with their lives throughout the day in a very authentic way,” says Mutammara.

“I just take a photo of what I have in front of me and I hope it will interest the people I publish for.”

According to Apptropia, the social network had a growth of 315% last year, and is currently the most downloaded in the App Store in the United States, the country where it has the most users.

The first time that Mutammara heard about BeReal was last February through a friend, who was enthusiastic.

Having grown up on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, Mutammara thought that BeReal, based on authenticity, could be something new.

After spending the night in a bar, he shared his first post on February 19: two friends lying on a sofa, ending the night, accompanied by a selfie with eyes under their eyes at dawn.

That BeReal has done so well suggests the power of a simple idea: that social networks can be a true reflection of who we are, a virtual mirror.

It is an idea almost as old as the platforms themselves.

His history, in fact, has been marked by the tension between naturalness or artifice;

between being faithful to our personality offline or projecting an aspirational image to be more attractive in the eyes of a familiar and foreign public.

Facebook, the social network par excellence, triumphed in the second half of the 2000s thanks to the commitment of Mark Zuckerberg, its founder, to connect existing relationships in the

offline world,

a strategy that he had previously used with Facemash, its predecessor.

“It was amazing to see how interested people were in other people's lives,” recalls Steven Levy, editor of


tech magazine and author of

Facebook: The Inside Story


"Facebook was used to share your personal news," recalls Kelsey Weekman, a reporter specializing in the


world .

But it was authentic up to a point.

For example, Leslie Zukor, a 37-year-old disability activist and journalist who was discharged in 2005, recalls how quickly she became overly overthinking what each publication said about her.

“At a certain point, you become self-conscious about your image and feel like, 'Oh my God, do I want this person to see this?'” says Zukor.

"You can't be true to yourself on Facebook."

Like her, there were more.

Despite the criticism, Facebook had more than 600 million active users at the end of 2010, more than the population of the United States and Indonesia, the world's third and fourth most populous countries in 2010, combined.

Its success inspired Kevin Systrom, who launched Instagram in 2010 to share square photos that included something new: editing filters.

He embellished reality through filters.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber)

Those filters “made Instagram a place where people learned that everything they posted could seem more perfect than the real thing,” recalls Sarah Frier,

big tech

editor at Bloomberg and author of

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram

. : The Secret Story of Instagram).

Ironically, a photo of unattractive Los Angeles traffic—Justin Bieber's first post in July 2011—was what helped Instagram take off.

We began to live with the “Instagram aesthetic”.

Bars painted in pastel

millennial pinks

and decorated with Adam's ribs have appeared all over the world, from Malasaña to Williamsburg: non-places, or, as cultural critic Kyle Chayka dubs them, AirSpace.

"If you're constantly editing your life, everything around you is a set," says Frier.

"And if you work in a physical business, whether it's a restaurant, a hotel or an art gallery, you try to design that place as something where people want to take photos."

Filters no longer only served to add a vintage


to a


tea , but also allowed facial features to be altered, increasing the lips and stretching the eyebrows.

The era of the

Instagram Face

was born , as critic Jia Tolentino defined it, an unattainable (and not a little racist) ideal that has ended up affecting the mental health of those who have grown up with it.

According to an investigation that


Wall Street Journal

conducted last year: “Among adolescents who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of Americans linked the desire for suicide to Instagram.”

As Paula Yanes-Lukin, a psychology professor at Columbia University, explains: “Instagram is not so much about building relationships as it is about looking at images of other people and yourself.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Zendaya (@zendaya)

This pressure led many users to open alternative accounts where they can share more authentic content, that is, the



fake Instagram.



also became another ruse to gain validation from an audience eager for fresh content.

In this context comes BeReal, the definitive



But, it is seen, there is nothing casual in the digital sphere.

The search for an authentic identity in social networks is a mere oxymoron, a contradiction, as Jia Tolentino wrote in

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion


Few people would be interested in seeing


, the famous Andy Warhol tape that shows a man sleeping for more than five hours, if it were


on social networks.

“If everyone is trying to be perfect, the only way to stand out is to try not to be,” Frier reasons.

"Everything we do on the internet, we do it with the recognition that it will be consumed and judged by others."

"If you look at the history of networking, you'll find a lot of platforms claiming to be the next authentic solution, different from what came before," explains Jason Steinhauer, historian and author of

History Disrupted: How Social Media And The World Wide Web Have Changed The Past

(The Broken History. How Social Networks and the World Wide Web Have Changed the Past).

“You can find many different apps that had good months or years, but weren't able to sustain success.

My first question would be how much of BeReal's success is really real."

On the other hand, if networks are a medium, how much authenticity can interest us?

Natalia Poblete, a 24-year-old immigration legal assistant, downloaded BeReal on March 25 after Miranda, her roommate, convinced her to try a new app that was popular with her high school classmates.

Her first post, a photo of her foot touching Miranda, left her somewhat cold, and she believed that the


's popularity would soon evaporate, as would her content.

But the gossipy spirit prevailed and she stayed.

“I wanted to see other people's [posts], so I said, 'Okay, come on.

I'm going to post something so you can see the rest."

Now, however, he sees the seams in the invention.

"I would like people to wait to publish until they are in a more interesting place, because I am tired of seeing everyone sitting at their desk," complains Poblete.

According to her, the content published on social networks must be aspirational, something elaborate, since authenticity, at least as a form of consumption, is boring.

Having a clear digital narrative and sharing quality content is, for her, more important than staying true to reality.

“The people I think are good at posting, like the ones I would like, are not necessarily authentic accounts,” she says.

"I'm not sure I'm interested in authenticity."

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-08-13

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