Let’s BeReal: How 5C students are capturing campuses this year

A beach scene with a picture of a person smiling in the top left corner. Below the picture reads "4 hrs late."
(Lucia Marquez-Uppman • The Student Life)

Once a day, every day, like clockwork, phones across the 5C campuses buzz to the same two-minute notification: “Time to BeReal.” 

Released in 2020, BeReal, a social media platform gaining popularity this year, has given social media connections a new meaning. Advertised as a new and unique way to use social media, the app claims to be a real insight into the daily lives of BeReal users. The app operates by prompting users to take a quick snapshot within the app, sending out the prompt to all users at the same time once every day. Within a time limit of two minutes, the app takes a photo of both the user and their surroundings. If someone posts late, it notifies their friends of the late post as an incentive to post on time. 

The app has become a new phenomenon, not just as a concept, but also as a mode of taking and sharing photos. 

“Its double camera feature allows me to have fun with the pictures and get artistic,” Giacomo Marazza PO ’25 said. As a way to see both the photographer and photo, it has allowed for a different perspective in photography: including the photographer in the frame. 

This two-frame photo concept is not the only reason for the app’s popularity, however. Many view BeReal as a great way of keeping up with the daily lives of their friends in different places. 

“It’s interesting to see what people are doing in real time,” Euan Kang PO ’26 said. 

As a form of communication, the app has constant, daily contact built into it –– something that other platforms are missing.

“It shows me what [my friends] are up to, and it feels good to have that kind of connection with others,” Matthew Parsons PO ’26 said.  

For others, social media platforms like BeReal can cause pressure when posting. 

“I feel like it takes you away from the actual moment you are in, to make it seem just as cool, or maybe even more cool, for those who will see your BeReal.”

Jessica Sloan-Cooper CM ’26

“The impact of seeing cool [posts] is amplified, which creates a social pressure,” Sid Rastogi HM ’23 said. “I don’t think BeReal addresses the underlying issue with social media, which is that people feel a societally-induced pressure to constantly share their own lives, as well as keep up with all of their friends.” 

This pressure translates to BeReal as users selectively show their daily lives so that it includes the moments that appear more interesting than they are “real.” 

“I feel like it takes you away from the actual moment you are in, to make it seem just as cool, or maybe even more cool, for those who will see your BeReal,” Jessica Sloan-Cooper CM ’26 said.  

The concept has raised questions from some users about the genuineness of the captured moment, and whether one can truly be present in an online environment. Reid Cohen PZ ’24 explained that some of his friends choose not to post on time. 

This delay is common for many users; people either avoid the notification to stay in the moment or wait for a better one to come along.

Allowing people to wait can prevent the user from showing what is happening at the exact moment of notification, creating a delay between different users’ post of the day.

“People have taken advantage of this feature by delaying the BeReal until they are doing something interesting or worth capturing,” Erin Rodriguez PO ’26 said. “This almost completely defeats BeReal’s purpose of the app name, to be real. To be in the moment. To capture people at their raw and authentic instances.”

BeReal is meant to capture small, random, unedited moments. Users are divided as to how well it accomplishes this goal.

“It depends on how you use it,” Frances Walton SC ’26 said. 

These differing usages mean that users take the stated aim of the app with varying degrees of seriousness. 

“Some people will actually be real where others wait until they’re doing something ‘cool’ to post,” Lauren Eckstein PO ’26 said.

This question of authenticity is certainly put to the test when looking at BeReal’s use on the 5C campuses this year. BeReal highlights the average life. Bringing something new to social media platforms is a massive task, but BeReal is taking it day by day. 

“It’s spontaneous and randomized,” Rodriguez said, “for the purpose of capturing people just going through their normal lives.”

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