Call: The Struggle Is (For) Real: Cultivating Authenticity in the “BeReal” Age – Flow special issue

Call for Papers

Flow Volume 29 Special Issue 4

Deadline: January 13, 2023

The viral popularity of BeReal prophesizes the next generation of social media and social sharing platforms. The image-centric sharing platform, launched in 2020 by Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau, promotes itself as a platform for people who hate social media. The platform’s 10 million active users receive a daily notification reminding them it is “time to BeReal” while allowing two minutes to snap their current moment. Already recognized as the “antidote to social media fakery” (Duffy & Gerrard, 2022), BeReal encourages authenticity through the platform’s logic and design while policing users’ labor through its emphasis on capturing each post in a single shot. BeReal cultivates a return to simplicity with its minimalist interface and simple user experience flow (Boffone, 2022). In the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns, BeReal promotes a sense of digital collectiveness as users share their pandemic moments and build a digital community. With increased social media fatigue, BeReal promises a platform experience where creative work and posting practices neither center around advertisements nor influencers (McKoy & Scanlan, 2022).

This special issue of Flow opens a space to discuss this platform. What do BeReal’s unique affordances provide for users? How do they catalyze certain user behaviors and practices over others? How will BeReal shift influencer and creative economies? Is BeReal just another social sharing fad, or will the platform have a more permanent impact on digital platform cultures? As one of the first scholarly forums about BeReal, we welcome scholars to grapple with this emerging critical conversation interrogating BeReal’s role in the following topics and beyond:

  • Methodological ethics and concerns for studying BeReal
  • Telecommunications law and media policy
  • The future of advertising on social platforms
  • BeReal’s user experience
  • Race, Gender, and BeReal
  • Cross-cultural and/or transnational analyses of platform use
  • Influencer economies and platform labor
  • Social sharing v. social media
  • Behind the scenes of BeReal: authenticity and curation
  • Social media fads
  • Slow social media
  • Gamification of social platforms
  • Abolitionist and anti-carceral analyses of surveillance on BeReal

To be considered for this issue, please submit a completed column of 1200-1500 words, along with at least three images (.gif or .png) or embeddable audiovisual materials with image sources. Please send your column, media files, sources/citations, and a short bio to Flow’s guest editors, Jess Rauchberg and Tom Divon, at by January 13, 2023. This Special Issue will be published at in early February.

Flow is a critical forum on media and culture published by the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at the University of Texas at Austin. Flow’s mission is to provide a space where scholars and the public can discuss media histories, media studies, and the changing landscape of contemporary media.


Boffone, T. (2022, September 29). You gotta be quick when it’s time to BeReal. Retrieved from

Duffy, B.E. & Gerrard, Y. (2022, August 15). BeREal and the doomed quest for online authenticity. Retrieved from

McKoy, K. & Scanlan, K. (2022, November 15). Could BeReal be the first successful social media channel to grow without ad support? Retrieved from


Jessica Sage Rauchberg, M.A. (she/her)
Ph.D. Candidate | Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant
ABLE Project and Accounts Manager, Pulse Lab
Department of Communication Studies and Media Arts
McMaster University

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