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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BeReal photo-sharing app encourages teens in Inland Northwest to share authentic moments

July 19, 2022 Updated Wed., Aug. 3, 2022 at 9:29 p.m.

By Carly Dykes The Spokesman-Review

BeReal, an app gaining traction with teenagers both worldwide and in the Inland Northwest, captures nonfabricated moments once daily.

The app flips  the traditional method of photo-sharing on its head. Rather than having the user determine when is the perfect time for a photo, each day at a randomized time, BeReal users are met with a notification simultaneously alerting every user, worldwide, that a two-minute window to post a photo is open.

The result is a contemporaneous experience for all people using the app. 

Willow captures two friends admiring tidal pools alongside the Oregon Coast during her summer vacation.   (Courtesy of Willow Hall-Cottrill)
Willow captures two friends admiring tidal pools alongside the Oregon Coast during her summer vacation.  (Courtesy of Willow Hall-Cottrill)

Willow Hall-Cottrill, an active social media user and Lewis and Clark student, said the best part about BeReal is keeping in touch with far-flung friends.

“I find it exciting that I can see what my friends are doing during the day. It’s especially fun if you have friends who live far away,” Hall-Cottrill said. “For example, I get to know what my friend that lives in North Carolina is doing while I’m across the country in Spokane.”

With the absence of filters, editing and the pressure to manufacture a false reality, BeReal offers a different take on photo-sharing . Instagram, TikTok, and VSCO allow users to bury their photos in filters, edits and touch-ups, encouraging users to fabricate a false reality.

BeReal, on the other hand, allows the user to capture the less exciting moments, such as the monotony of watching Netflix alone on a Friday night.

Hall-Cottrill, who is also an avid user of Instagram and TikTok, finds BeReal to be more restrictive creatively.

Its upside is its ability for connections, said Selena Parker-Parris, also a Lewis and Clark student.

“I find BeReal exciting because it makes me feel connected to my friends,” she said. I get to see what they are doing even though I am not with them.”

Parker-Parris captures a snapshot of her and a furry-friend relaxing.  (Courtesy of Selena Parker-Parris)
Parker-Parris captures a snapshot of her and a furry-friend relaxing. (Courtesy of Selena Parker-Parris)

In one post, Parker-Parris captures a vulnerable moment of her and a furry friend. It’s a moment in time that Parker-Parris would likely not think to document on other photo-sharing apps because it’s not an unordinary moment.

“There isn’t room to change the picture or make it better, it is just a picture in the moment,” Parker-Parris said. 

Parker-Parris agreed that BeReal limits creativity, but she finds the app to be a judgment-free, safe space to share moments that aren’t picture-perfect.

Over 3 million daily users flock to BeReal to document their everyday life. The photo-sharing app offers seven different language options.

Users are given the choice to view only their friend’s shares, or to view the “discovery page” that documents pictures shared globally .

If a user misses the two-minute window, their post is labeled as “late” to all of their friends. That discourages users from delaying their photos until a more exciting event.

BeReal also does away with the popularity contest-like features of other sharing apps, including attracting followers and receiving likes. Still, the app has seemingly captivated the attention of teenagers worldwide.

Anne Mason, a clinician and researcher at the Washington State University Spokane School of Nursing who specializes in teenage technology use and psychology, said that apps like BeReal do a better job of encouraging users to share what life is really like.

“The filter-free aspect of the app discourages the misconception that being influential and successful looks only one way”, said Mason.

BeReal’s approach to encouraging content allows users to provide a more realistic, diverse version of the world is something that is missing on social media.

“Apps like BeReal exemplify diversity. There is a need for transparency and accuracy in our presence on social media.” Mason stated.

That’s exactly why Hall-Cottrill says she uses BeReal daily.

“I would say that I document more real moments on BeReal than I do on any other platform,” Hall-Cottrill said. 

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