What's today? Saturday? Oh good! Time for a new social media app you'll have to explain to your mom next time you visit. Today's app is brought to us by filmmaker Casey Neistat and it's called Beme. Basically, think Snapchat meets YouTube meets You Didn't Realize You Butt Dialed Someone And They Just Awkwardly Overheard Your Starbucks Order. Neistat explains...
Social media is supposed to be a digital or virtual version of who we are as people. Instead it's this highly sculpted, calculated, calibrated version of who we are... to portray a version of who we are that doesn't really resemble the reality of things.
Or, to paraphrase Holden Caufield: You're all phonies.
Beme seeks to "remove the self-awareness or self consciousness from sharing on social media." How does it do that? Well, first of all, you can't see what you're filming, because the proximity sensor is your record button. You record by holding your phone against your chest (to film from your perspective) or up against a wall (to take a selfie... because this is still social media after all, so ya gots to have selfies). So here's where it gets all "Whaaaaaa—?" After you record, your video posts right away with no chance at review. And when I say no chance at review, that means ever. You will never see the video you send out into the universe. And once your friend reviews it on their Beme feed, they can't see it again. It's a one time deal. Don't worry, though. You can still send them feedback by snapping a real-time selfie as you watch.
Oh, shoot: Why don't I just let the man himself explain it in full so we can all continue this article with the same set of information...
Okay. I won't lie. My first reaction to this was "So you want all the same attention you get from social media, but you want to pretend you're above it somehow. Instagram for super-hipsters. Gotcha." But as I began mulling over the whole thing, I began to become very interested in the questions Beme poses and brings up about social media usage... I should add that my initial opinion really hasn't changed all that much, but philosophically I find this exercise pretty interesting, which I have to think is at least part of the point of Beme.
I guess my question is "Isn't everything Beme is achieving already possible with existing platforms and technologies?" If you wanted to partake of a more authentic social media, couldn't you just not look at the camera, take one photo and one photo only, and forgo filters? Isn't deciding to post a Beme curation in and of itself, because you're choosing to share a particularly chosen moment in your life? (Spoilers: The answer to all these questions is yes.)
It also strikes me that, as annoying as "FakeBook" can be sometimes (like your friend who posts about how awesome her relationship is going when your text message records with her indicate anything but; or carefully selected "candid" shots), we don't actually want unvarnished, unfiltered reality in social media, and I really don't think that's so terrible. When we relay information to one another in any format, even just talking, we automatically edit. If we don't, there's usually a level of either a) boredom (not all details are created equal), or b) social weirdness. Neistat talks about removing self-awareness from the social media experience, but honestly I feel like that's what happens when people are inauthentic on Facebook. Self-awareness is a good thing. Self-awareness is what tells us, "Hey, maybe just give us the highlights reel, because 4-second increment play-by-plays of how you drove to work this morning is going to get old real fast."
And what about the "you never get to see it" aspect? Honestly, I post to social media as much for future me to be able to review things as I do for other people to consume them in the present. And what about the logistical aspect that you might post something potentially really embarrassing with no way to take it back? That could wreak hell on a high schooler's life. Or what if you think you're filming a street scene and before you know it you've unwittingly witnessed a car crash or mugging? Certainly I don't think either of these scenarios are particularly likely, but I think they're worth considering.
Even if it's not ideal social media, as a social statement, Beme is kind of neat. But while I'm willing to try it out to see for myself (and see how other people find use of it), I can't help but feel like rather than being a step away from the self-indulgent, self-promoting vanity of social media posts, this is merely a step to the other side of the same coin.