The only social media app that doesn’t ruin my mental health.
It sounds like an oxymoron to suggest that a social media app can cure FOMO, but I’m dead serious. If you haven’t heard of the phenomenon known as BeReal, I’ll give you a brief rundown. Once a day, at a random time, BeReal sends a notification out to all of its users, alerting them that they have two minutes to “capture a BeReal.” As the name suggests, the point of the app is to be real, so users are supposed to take two simultaneous pictures—using the front and back cameras—and let their friends know what they’re doing at that exact moment.
It’s a rare form of social media that is designed to actually connect us, rather than endorse the comparison game. There are no filters or photoshopping skills needed, no follower counts or likes displayed—although you can leave comments or “Realmojis,” BeReal’s reaction feature that allows you to leave selfies on your friend’s posts. The whole concept of the app centers on authenticity rather than doctored photos flaunting the highlight reels of our lives.
Whenever I mindlessly scroll through apps like Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok, I can’t help but assume that everyone else is always living their best life. Nine times out of 10, clicking on any one of those apps will leave me feeling worse about myself. And when I’m not actively perusing social media, I’m imagining all the Instagram-worthy activities that people are probably doing: going out to bars and parties and concerts, hanging out with their best friends or partners, or jet-setting to far-off destinations. In my mind, other people are busy doing fun things 24/7, because that’s what we’re used to seeing on social media—people being fake, and not being real.
Then along came BeReal, an app that directly addresses the toxic nature of social media. It sounds stupid to admit, but it’s helped me realize that other people have normal lives, too. Even the busiest “it girls” do homework and sleep and get stuck in traffic and make pasta for dinner. No one is at their peak every minute of every day, and BeReal is a nice reminder that we all have responsibilities and mundane tasks in our lives. I no longer feel FOMO for experiences that don’t even exist; the imaginary narratives I’ve created for other people in my lives have disappeared.
It’s also nice to see only my close friends and family on my social media, rather than all my random acquaintances who I feel obligated to follow or celebrities who seem larger than life. Seeing glimpses of my best friends’ lives every day feels like a hug, and seeing posts from my mom and grandma (yes, my mom and grandma are on BeReal) never fails to make me smile. For the first time, I can close out of a social media app with positive vibes instead of negative ones.
BeReal has given me faith in social media, as long as we collectively resist the urge to show off a fake version of our lives. If you haven’t given in to the craze yet because you’re skeptical of another social media app, I get it! But I hope this article has opened your eyes to the pros of this unique app that promotes truth and connection.
Oh, and one last thing: don’t try to hack the system and wait until you are doing something exciting to post your BeReal. That defeats the whole point of the app and its aims to eliminate comparison culture. BFFR.