Thank God For BeReal Because I’ve Been Dying To Add To My List Of Self-Inflicted Online Chores

bereal is a chore
Contributor: Joseph Earp

I’m a simple person. I wake up, and get to work.

What I do not mean is, “I wake up and attend an office, and complete a series of tasks for which I am remunerated financially.” I do that as well.

What I actually mean is, “I attend a life, and complete a series of tasks — the most recent of which is the new hit social app BeReal — which an outsider would describe as entertaining, and which I maybe do too, but which I consider and undertake with a mechanistic precision that I can no longer entirely explain or justify.”

BeReal, like all my other apps, is fun. It’s engaging. It’s predicated on connection. Like, I actually enjoy doing it. I like talking to people. I like seeing what people I love are doing, and the social media content that they make –– which is indistinguishable, really, from art — and I like seeing what relative strangers are doing, because that’s fascinating. These things have the potential to be important for making sense of ourselves, and for others.

What I can also describe these things as, is “chores”. They can become “necessary”. As in, things that must be done in order to stay contented, the same way that ironing and folding your clothes is something that you must do in order to stay presentable. They are a form of maintenance, of the self, and of pleasure. Update. Create. Share. Repeat.

A fun game that you used to be able to play is trying to describe something in such general terms that you could be describing anything. Take the act of moisturising your face, and then describe it in such a way that you could be talking about going horse riding. E.g.“A bodily act of relaxation that you can do in front of someone else, but not with them.” Blend things together.

You can not do this anymore, because the potential enjoyment of an app like BeReal — the way it can lead you to connect with others — has warped into work. Everything is work, from paid work, to content, to logging on.

We have been happily flattened by this constant work; by the modern world. This is a flattening we have chosen, because it is mostly good and fun, until we have moments of sudden panic, akin to a desperate question of, “wait, what is this all for”, that we silence by more flattening. This flattening is a state where there is no distinction between entertainment, and our jobs, and our therapeutic practices, and our self-expression.

It’s not hopeless, though. There are ways to break this flattening. They are, I think, based around honesty. As in, saying what you mean, and knowing what you mean, even if these things do not fit neatly into the amorphous grey goo that is modern life, and its constant work.

It is very freeing to say, “I do not know”, or “I am not sure”, or “I don’t want to do that”, or “no thank you.” We do not say these things enough, because they speak against the flattening.

These breaks are also based around impoliteness. Because the world has flattened all things into the same thing, a way to interrupt that flattening is to do things that are abrupt, and strange, and rude, and cunt-y.

But remember two things. The first is that doing this is scary. We chose this flattening because it felt good. The opposite does not always feel good.

The other is that, in order to tell you any of this, I had to submit to the flattening. I had to write an article. I had to share it with you. I had to present it in a form that you will encounter, perhaps on your Facebook feed, sandwiched in between a news article on the growing threat of Monkeypox, and a review of that show you’ve just got to watch, which you’ll add to the list, and then watch, and then share, and then —

Anyway, gotta go.

It’s ⚠️Time to BeReal!⚠️

Joseph Earp is a writer and philosopher who lives on Gadigal land. You can follow him on Twitter