Time to BeReal – at Hayfield

BeReal at Hayfield Football Game (Mohamed Elberry)

BeReal at Hayfield Football Game (Mohamed Elberry)

“Everyone’s fake, it’s the internet.”

Junior Chi Pham said.

With its unique photography features, simultaneous notifications, and heavy reliance on authenticity, BeReal has taken Hayfield students and staff into a frenzy. Its explosion occurred early summer of 2022, inevitably gaining traction through another social media app catered to young adults, TikTok. BeReal offers various features that set it apart from leading social media apps, with its daily, randomly-timed notification, two-minute timer, and ability to take a photo from the front and back camera being its “wow factors.” Nonetheless, with its presence at Hayfield, BeReal has proved to be a way for students to document their daily activities, whether as mundane as in the classroom, or as lively as at a football game.

However, in the rise of its popularity comes criticisms. With its disregard for scheduled notifications– does BeReal disrupt the educational environment at Hayfield? Concerning certain features of the app– does BeReal create an invasion of privacy for some students? And most importantly– do BeReal users use the app for its true intention? Its purpose being to showcase your true, authentic self.

“It’s called BeReal for a reason,” Junior Aracely Rocha Torrez said in response to the use of BeReal at Hayfield.     

The creators of BeReal had the intention of letting people document where they are in the moment, unlike most other media outlets that encourage fabricated, filtered content. However, BeReal has one competitive factor when coming to terms with the problem of inauthenticity, the inevitable self-image in teenage culture.

“It’s designed to reflect the authentic lifestyle [of] what someone is really doing. It’s different from other social media platforms where everything is really filtered,” Junior Caitlin Johnson said.

Nonetheless, it seems that the inauthentic aspect of other social media apps have bled into the app of BeReal. One instance is rather than posting at the notification, some users wait for a more appealing time to take it. For students at Hayfield, this is prevalent at football games, in a favorite classroom, or with friends after school.

“Every highschool student wants to look cool, that’s just the culture we grow in,” Junior Mohamed Elberry said.

Another instance of inauthenticity is the option to retake photos. This embraces the culture of perfection, the complete opposite of the purpose. Although there are restrictions on the timer, BeReal allows you to retake as many photos as you want. The app, however, does counter this by allowing other users to see how many times the photo was taken prior to the BeReal posted. Evident through this are the pressures of being “perfect” on social media. 

“You have to continuously [retake, until it’s] a good picture. If we like it, we send it,” Junior Chi Pham said.

An alarming drawback that BeReal has created through the encouraged rush of the limited two minute slot and appeal to a younger audience includes the disruption of the classroom. The use of Bereal by a younger audience including our very own Hayfield students is continuously forming many of our classrooms into uncomfortable and distracting spaces for some. Although BeReal was created as a platform that pushed the idea of being genuine and in the moment through its restrictive timer, it may be doing more harm than good.

BeReal of Spamalot cast backstage (Nina Wilborn)

“In the classroom, that causes more of a disruption because of that sense of urgency,” Kristen Dvorak, AP Capstone teacher, said in response to the effects of the time crunch. 

Bereal may be causing a negative impact on classrooms, teachers, and our students at Hayfield. Social media has never shielded away from the school setting, but the features of BeReal, including the use of dual-cameras are developing frustration and feelings of discomfort. 

 “I understand students take pictures in the past with different social media, but that urgency and inability to delay it for a bit, or ask them not to [take the BeReal] makes me uncomfortable,” Dvorak said. 

The disruption in the educational environment because of BeReal is not only limited to the classroom, after school activities like our performing arts programs and many clubs are impacted too. 

“During the [marching band] parade the [BeReal] notification went off and a bunch of people went on their phones, taking pictures,” Junior Francesca Marie Babijes said.

BeReal of Homecoming Parade (Lauren Capel)

The features of Bereal are producing another complication, including a loss of a sense of privacy and comfort in our Hayfield classrooms. 

“I’ve always thought that recording or taking pictures of people without them knowing has been weird,” Junior Lidya Worku said. 

But, with all problems come solutions.

Students at Hayfield have proposed the idea of limiting the time you can post to just the two-minute timer, eliminating inauthenticity altogether

“Maybe there should only be a lock during the two minutes,”  Elberry said. 

The use of Bereal’s features continues to fail in meshing together with teenage culture, as it develops an escalation in drawbacks of authenticity, disrupts the educational environment, and infringes privacy for Hayfield teachers and the student body.