Social Authenticity: Does It Even Exist?

  • Copy by: Daryl Lindsey

How much of what you see on social media is actually “real?”

The answer: Probably not a whole lot. We know it’s true, because we all do it in one way or another. We post selfies with flattering filters (come on, like you’ve never done it) or Instagram the most glamorous shots from our last vacation.

We publicly lament the inauthentic nature of social media that we ourselves contribute to.

Then, after enviously stalking the page of someone we barely know, we publicly lament the inauthentic nature of social media that we ourselves contribute to.

Exaggerating on social networks seems akin to plastic surgery for celebrities or steroids for professional athletes: Everybody’s doing it, but if you get caught you’re probably going to be ripped apart. Our social media profiles have transformed into carefully curated, selectively edited versions of our real lives.

But is that really a bad thing?

A new social media app, Beme, seems to think so.

What the heck is Beme?

Beme is an app that promises to free us all from social media snobbery. The app’s creator, videographer and popular youtube personality Casey Neistat, hopes to “remove the self-awareness or self consciousness from sharing on social media.”

Real, honest sharing of our day-to-day lives. Sounds cool, right?

Beme attempts “authentic” in a few ways:

For starters, users can only record video when the front of their phone screens are covered up. This is typically achieved by pressing your phone to your chest or to another flat surface. Once the 4-second clip’s been recorded, it’s immediately sent out into the universe without letting you review the footage.

Then, in a way similar to Snapchat, your friends and followers can only view the clip once before it disappears forever.

The Experience

My #nomakeup, #nofilter face is recorded reacting to my friend’s 4-second video as her dog drinks out of a cup for some reason.

I thought the idea was interesting and decided to try it for myself.

My first step: find a friend with an access code. Beme is still in early “members only” stage and unlock codes can only be given out by people who already have the app. It took a few hours and a shout-out on Facebook, but I managed.

Over the course of a day, a friend and I traded videos back and forth. I watched her play with her dog and hang out with her feet in the pool. She was lucky enough to witness my caffeine-and-Asian-food fueled study session at the library.

Honestly? The experience was a little bizarre. Fun, mind you, but bizarre. It felt strange to send a video that I hadn’t seen and would never see again, just as it felt strange (and almost too intimate) to see the daily moments of my friend’s life exactly as my friend saw them.

The Verdict

My first thought is “Ugh, I need to look cute while reacting.” So am I still being authentic?

There are plenty of things I like about Beme. I like that sharing requires so little thought or effort; just press my phone to my chest and like magic, the video is shared. I could share clips from a concert or a gorgeous hike with virtually no disruption or distraction, which can’t be said for any other social media site I frequent. It’s refreshing to share and receive video with so little planning or pretense.

No one is ever truly “authentic” every minute of every day.

Still, can any social media app even an app like Beme be truly “authentic?” Users still decide what to record and what not to record. They’ll still post videos of themselves on good hair days or when the lighting is flattering.

That doesn’t speak to their moral failings, but rather to human nature in general. Our brains focus in on interesting things and the rest blurs together and fades from memory.

The truth is no one is ever truly “authentic” every minute of every day. I act differently with my best friend than I do with my grandmother. I wear shoes that pinch at my toes to work because they look professional. I curate my Instagram feed because I like to look at beautiful, gorgeously edited images just as much as I love to create them.

Does that make me inauthentic?

Or does it make me just, authentically, human?

You decide.

  • It just makes me happy that there are more people out there craving for more “real deal” than the selectively curated life we sell out. There’s no freedom like ‘be yourself’ freedom =)

  • Emilie Hanson DeLong

    Love this! This is one of the issues I discuss frequently in my blog and actually the meaning behind its name: Behind a Name | My Shiny Happy Life

  • I feel that most social media networks started with the intention of being authentic. Facebook was for connecting with classmates, Twitter was for updating in the moment, and Instagram was for taking pictures of our every day life. It was the users of those social media networks that chose to be inauthentic. I don’t feel there is going to be a way to prevent it.

    • True, as I was reading this, I thought whats stopping from doing my hair and makeup and recording myself in the mirror?

  • Whats the point of having a react function when you cant watch your video again to see people’s reactions?

    • You get an alert any time someone watches your video and you can watch their reactions!

    • Ronny Cheung

      You can rewatch your video once when the system send it to your feed. And the reactions are basically photos so you can click through them once.

  • Chloe

    I love what she’s written at the bottom. I just feel like even with Beme people can still choose what to not share…they don’t have to share that picture of them when they just woke up with the whole world. I get the idea but it’s a little scary to share a video without ever seeing it…

  • Rachel Bindl

    I don’t think it’s so much being inauthentic as it is just having an actual filter. For example, you may share a truthful life story with your best friend that you would not share with your mother. This doesn’t mean that you are inauthentic or that you are somehow lying. It just means that you are filtering what’s appropriate to share. You are a different person to your best friend than who you are to your mother. People are complex – no matter how social media evolves it probably will not be able to capture all of that complexity. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps a good thing to realize. No one’s entire life will be captured or portrayed on Instagram – and I think that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that people are inauthentic or fake, just more complicated than what little squares can or should capture.