“Comparison is the thief of joy,” I was once told. In life, we must try to heed this quote by Theodore Roosevelt. But it is almost impossible not to compare our lives to those of social media influencers, reality TV personalities, and Hollywood actors when we see their lavish posts online. Social media has become a platform of comparison for most of us.
It is difficult to see the purpose of following accounts of people who spend their time ordering clothes, makeup, and brands of accessories that we couldn’t afford at the present moment. Watch Gossip Girl to see how the other half lives – without the high-flyers consuming the contents of your scrolling! Apps such as Instagram have that effect on people, where everything is a competition.
Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau (creators of the French app BeReal) had an idea to change this. BeReal is a social media app where it is required that its users take a picture at a different time every day. The time is decided by the app so whenever the notification arrives to “BeReal”, the user must take a snapshot of what they are doing at that exact time, wherever they are, whoever they’re with. It is true, however, that comparisons may still be made if you are not doing something as thrilling as your friends at the time of posting. But it offers the chance to see past the Instagram filters, the perfectly edited Tik Tok posts, and the always-sunny-always-smiling albums on those accounts which make you feel like it’s unnatural to have an off day.
So have they managed to create an authentic app? Studies show that posts on apps such as Instagram and TikTok can have a negative effect on the mental health of their users. BeReal, however, somehow manages to create a sense of solidarity as you cannot view what your friends have posted until you post yourself. It also does not show how many likes you receive or how many followers and the post disappears when the next “2 minutes to BeReal” request arrives.
I feel that the app’s developers have achieved a sense of authenticity and have created an online platform that is different from any other. It offers us the chance to escape from perfection and share the reality of watching Netflix in bed, spending hours on the bus at the weekend to get home, and simply cooking dinner in the kitchen. These scenarios that would otherwise never see the light of day on your socials.