We seem to have been residing in a second age of social media usage, a technological era of willful impermanence birthed from a post-Snowden culture that fears the concept of content which is immortal by default. It’s in this environment that apps like Snapchat have thrived, but with what we’ve gained in perceived security we seem to have lost in online spontaneity and outward context.
A new app for iOS, Beet, is hoping to bring back that context, and present and save our life memories and experiences for our friends in one package.
Beet is essentially the amalgam of Snapchat stories’ stackable life moments and Instagram’s comprehensive photo feed. On day-to-day usage it pretty much operates like Snapchat stories, sans photos, because you’re generally just keeping up with your friends’ latest video updates. What makes it refreshingly unique, however, is how quickly you feel like you can get to know someone when you discover them for the first time.
Beet’s co-founders Jonathan Miller and Sean Thielen hope that their app can help people focus on the less photogenic “personality moments” of their life.
“Social media tends to force us into sharing only those moments that we think will get the most likes, but that leads to a narrative that is disconnected from who we really are,” Miller said. He added, “These portrayals of our personalities don’t really align with who we are, and it distracts your narrative.”
In light of this pretty profound statement, I found it a little bit odd that Beet actually does have a like button for its videos unlike services like Snapchat, but otherwise the app definitely does live up to Beet’s broader mission of “sharing our lives in context.”
What reigns as the app’s standout feature is the ease and comprehensiveness that Beet offers to those looking to follow new people outside of their friend circles. It takes a page from Instagram’s discover feature, but instead of simply seeing a random photo from a user’s life, you are presented with what is essentially a movie of clips from that user’s life. Thanks to a major update this week, Beet is also introducing major improvements to the discovery section of the app and is allowing people to discover other users based on trending stories or user-moderated events.
Much of the content that I saw from people on Beet, right now at least, didn’t seem to be radically different from what I’m used to seeing on other social media sites. Typical videos included people grabbing food with friends, lounging by the pool with hot dog legs, or out clubbing in the city. The app definitely has the potential to be different, but users’ habits from other social media sites sort of seem to be driving it right now.
Miller and Thielen told me that the app has gained popularity with college users at fraternities and sororities creating group feeds that their friends can post to collectively. They also mentioned a surge in parents documenting moments of their kids’ lives to share with relatives. On that note, users are indeed able to opt into security features that limit the visibility of their posts if they want to use the app with a small groups of people.
Beet is new and is still picking up users, but it’s cool to see an app trying to simplify how we share our lives online at face value without any editing or filters. The app’s similarities with Snapchat’s story feature are pretty significant, but its permanence really does change how you view users’ profiles (and online lives) as a whole.
Beet is available now for iOS and will be updated for Android users later this fall.