Ben Borgers


April 17, 2022

I started using BeReal recently. It’s an app where everybody gets a push notification once a day, and then you have two minutes to post a picture of what you’re doing in that moment.

One part of the app I thought was really interesting were what they call RealMoji — it’s the ability to react to someone’s post with an “emoji” that’s actually a picture of your face in that moment.

I really like this idea. It’s such a frictionless way of responding to someone’s post in a personal way, without having to think of a witty comment to leave.

But I clearly like this because of how easy it is — just pressing a button, putting my face into some expression, and letting the phone snap a picture of my face.

It’s an extremely cheap way of socially interacting with someone, while still feeling like you socially interacted with them. Does that cheapen it? When I send a RealMoji, I’m not even thinking of words to type and send; I’m just sending a photo of my face to show that I was here.

Does that indicate that I care about the person? It feels like it does, for some reason. Perhaps it’s that we’re social creatures, and seeing people’s faces makes us feel connected to one another. Even if they’re light interactions, that picture of a face feels a bit like a friend said hi to you.