I have never encountered a call for authenticity that I did not want to dispute. So when I first heard of a new social media app called be realI knew I had to try it.

The app, whose name is not only an offer of reality but also an imperative, is referred to as “anti-Instagram”. He takes the basic concept of “gram” – endlessly scrolling through photos of your friends’ lives – and transforms it into something more gamified and (a little) less fake. It has recently become extremely popular among the generation Z crowd.

Here’s how it works: Every day, at random and unpredictable times, the BeReal app sends you and everyone else in the app a push notification: “It’s time for BeReal.” You then have two minutes to take a photo with both your front and rear cameras and post to the show. If you don’t post, you can’t watch your friends’ posts either. If you post late (or repeat the photo several times to get the right angle), the app will direct you to your friends. When a notification arrives the next day, everyone’s previous photos disappear.

Gamification comes from BeReal’s restrictions on publishing once a day; the authenticity comes from the fact that you can’t choose where or when to post and you can’t use a filter to smooth your skin or adjust the color of your avocado toast or whatever.

In fact, it sounded very similar Wordle for me: A two-minute break from your day to complete a fun little task on your phone before returning to the grind or scroll of fate or, most likely, to one of your other social media apps. And crucially, like Wordle, BeReal can only be “done” once a day.

What is to use BeReal

Excerpt from my BeReal posts.

Carissa Langley / CNET

I started recruiting by running tentacles in several of my existing group chats. I had a hunch that the app would be a fun group activity rather than a real social show, for the same reason I sometimes still share Wordle (or Worldle, Hurdleor Antiwordle) results over text, but I can’t understand why anyone is still tweeting them.

Since I am not a member of Gen Z myself, I knew it would be difficult to persuade enough friends to join me. My invitations were about 50% successful. A friend could not go beyond the ordinary Paranoia about AI training around new photo sharing apps. Another friend: “It’s like a trap.” My own husband left me to read.

Friends who did catch the bait began to playfully, often posting pictures of their laptops, cats, or protein powder. More often than not, my own photos of BeReal’s front camera were as unsightly as those of my tired, sullen face as my back camera filmed my son smearing ketchup around the tray of his dining chair. I once posted the same view from my balcony that a dinner guest posted on Instagram (and filtered to hell). Hers definitely looked better.

Technically, you can’t win BeReal as you can Wordle, but I soon realized the special satisfaction of achieving the trifecta: taking an interesting picture, taking a flattering selfie and posting everything on time. There’s also an element of luck if you happen to be somewhere cool when it’s time to be real, not on your couch or, as one of my friends feared, in the bathroom.

“Hoping to receive the notification during my exciting moments, not when I poop,” he sent me a message one day. The daily anticipation of when he will arrive, he added, is “like Jack in the box.”

Phone with 2-minute notification from the BeReal app

BeReal notifies you every day at any time, with only two minutes to publish a photo.

Sarah Tu / CNET

I “lost” BeReal several times: when the announcement arrived, after I went to bed, he introduced himself during Zoom meeting with camera on or drive on the highway. But I completely won on the day the two-minute window coincided with “the best two minutes in the sport“And I got a picture of my fascinator at the Kentucky Derby and Rich Strike crossing the finish line on television.

Read more: After today’s Wordle try these 21 other puzzle games

How real is BeReal, really?

100% of my BeReal friends plan to delete the application after the publication of this article. All of them opposed the false claims of the application for authenticity, and its requirements for their time.

“Receiving a signal, especially on a weekday or at night, when I don’t usually take pictures or post anything, was a little stressful,” said a friend.

“This app emphasizes that ideally I want control over social media, not the other way around,” another friend told me.

“I felt a little guilty if I didn’t publish every day,” admitted a third.

If Wordle tried to dictate what time we solve the puzzle every day, would the masses have included it by now? (See what happened to HQ curious facts.)

But I am personally more interested in the “True” than in the “Be”.

The atmosphere of BeReal is actually more nostalgic than authentic. Earlier-Instagram than anti-Instagram. My favorite part of BeReal was the permission – even the obligation – to post silly selfies and capitulate to the youthful egocentrism that still lurks beneath my already overly directed network. People don’t care what I ate for lunch, but I want them to know, damn it! One of my first posts on Insta was just a picture of some finger puppets that I found in a joke shop and I found it funny, and I miss publishing such things.

It seems that Instagram no longer has an appetite for everyday life. Instead of posting on Instagram the places we visit, we now just visit places that can be used on Instagram. While Instagram has been taken over by influencers and “creators” who publish drums and memes, BeReal has taken a different approach, as outlined in its list of apps in the store: “If you want to be an influencer, you can stay on TikTok and Instagram.”

On the other hand, “random publications” and discarding are enjoying some popularity as the pendulum swings in favor of a harsher aesthetic. And many of the memes that clog my Instagram show are from behind-the-scenes Instagram vs. Reality. Plus, maybe the ephemerality and informality of Stories already somehow satisfies this desire for the “real”.

When you think about it this way, BeReal is more of a gimmick than a harbinger of change on social media. And that’s unfortunate, because even if no one on this side of 30 agrees with me, I kind of like it! Like Snapchat or TikTok, it may eventually be included or played on Instagram itself as an optional feature.

Or like Wordlemaybe it’s nothing more than digital curiosity, which we will one day describe as “fun as it goes on.”