Time for South to BeReal.

Anna Marquardt and Max Beitzel

Once a day, the BeReal app sends out a notification to every user, offering a two minute window to post a picture of what users are doing at that exact moment. When the notification goes off during the school day, it is typical to see South students scrambling to take a selfie, handing their phone to a stranger, and getting into a good spot to capture the perfect shot. 

BeReal, an app released to the public in 2020, gained widespread popularity in 2022 among teenagers, and has a large presence at South. The app describes itself as “Not another social media” and prides itself on the ability of its users to “BeReal ”. The app displays photos taken simultaneously on the users’ front and back cameras, offering the full scene of what the user is doing, senior Emily Shim, a lover of the app, explained. 

“[I love seeing] a whole different part of someone [on BeReal that] you don’t see with Snapchat or Instagram,” Shim said. “I feel like you get to go inside someone’s life and [learn] more about them.”

Although many students use BeReal to establish a genuine social media presence, some students have attempted to take advantage of those who they assume are unfamiliar with BeReal, Andrew Reitman, English Department Permanent Substitute, said. This is frequently teachers that, by asking them to take a picture for their post, are being set up for an unexpected selfie, Reitman shared.

“A lot of students have tried to trick me into taking a BeReal of them because they think I am older and out of touch,” Reitman said. “I wish students would stop trying to get me in their BeReal posts.”

Senior Maddy Broderick had BeReal over the summer, but has since realized that she did not truly enjoy it or find it “real” in any sense, causing her to delete it. She believes that the app’s main flaw is that it allows users to post outside of the two minute window of the initial notification, often giving users the opportunity to wait until they are doing something more fun to take their photos. 

“I feel like the goal that the creators of BeReal were trying to achieve was not accomplished because [sometimes] people wait [to post until] they are doing more interesting [activites],” Broderick said.

To combat this flaw, Broderick believes the app would live up to its name better if users were not allowed to post outside of the two minute window, she explained.

“If [users] don’t make it in time, [they should] just wait for [the next day],” Broderick said. “[If they post after the notification, they are] not ‘being real’.”

In addition, Reitman believes the idea of the two minute window creates too much of a distraction for students as they anticipate the notification during the school day. 

“[Students] never know when [the notification] is going to [happen],” Reitman said. “If [students] have their phones with them, they are going to [keep] them out because they do not want to miss the two minute window.” 

Despite that some users disobey the given time to post, Shim described the benefit of BeReal as a way to document her daily life. She said it offers a concise way to view memories and has made it easier to capture a genuine version of her senior year. Shim believes that although it is not necessarily “real” to post late, it still gives her the opportunity to record her lifestyle. 

“[BeReal] is probably my favorite app that I have ever used,” Shim said. “It’s good to use [BeReal] to reflect back on my life.”