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Did BeReal Confirm the End of Social Media as We Know It?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Most of us had not even celebrated our first birthday at the turn of the century, creating an immense connection to the era that holds our very first memories. It makes perfect sense that as members of Gen Z, many of our current faves can’t get enough of their influence from the current Y2K renaissance. I don’t know about you, but my inner child is thriving now that I’m getting to wear everything I wished I could in 2007.

It is common to see days at the pool captured in polaroids and vacay “dumps” documented candidly with disposable cameras. Rather than recording every second of our lives through the lens of an iPhone, the masses now favor an emphasis on the very few moments that are truly worth capturing.

In an age where Zuckerburg is developing custom chipsets for virtual reality products, none of us seem to be truly focused on the virtual Snapchat streaks that were once vital to our existence. There has been an obvious trend of liberation on social media in the last two years, each trend becoming less composed and more casual. Our change in attitude from phone-obsessed to more focused on spending time with the people we love is the leading explanation for this shift in online behavior.

All true Y2K icons would have loved social media, so the countertrend against it can’t be for the love of the decade that gave birth to reality TV. The height of the early 2000s roaring 20s-Esque glitz ran right into 2008, a time period that favored minimalism due to one of the largest DOW point drops in history.

Several experts have warned of an upcoming recession, but job growth is solid but slowing according to The New York Times. As a generation that collectively just experienced the loss of the senior proms and graduations we had been preparing for since our youth, the apprehension of another world-shattering event may be brewing in our subconscious more than we realize.

When the reality of being quarantined for an unknown amount of time set in, many of us coped by reminiscing on the freedom and fun we had taken for granted. For a year, or even more, our brains were hardwired to look back at our old memories with a childlike, astonished gaze. This mindset is still evident in the general cultural disposition’s goal of recreating those pre-pandemic vibes. 

Seeking to compensate for the lack of permanence, we’ve come full circle in a beautiful way. By abandoning filters and using or imitating the look of film, we are capturing our favorite memories in the very mediums others captured their favorite memories of us growing up. I was inspired to flick through my parents’ old photo albums during a dull day in quarantine and ended up spending hours doing so. Like many, I gained a new appreciation for the spontaneity visible in each unedited raw photo in contrast to my phone full of curated content. 

The proof that social media is about to transform into an unrecognizable industry also sits in the stats. Snapchat is feeling the heat of the competition from rising platform BeReal, popular for its no-frills design and real-time photo sharing. This sudden surge towards authenticity is here to stay as the dust clears and all the impressions COVID-19 left on the world continue to unfold.

Taya Coates is a senior studying fashion merchandising and minoring in journalism. She hopes to pursue a career as a fashion editor and eventually start her own publication. She is passionate about covering stories on style, social activism, and culture.