Authenticity is in short supply online, says video maker Casey Neistat, with social media forcing us to present over-stylized and over-perfect versions of ourselves to world. Neistat thinks he has the answer, though: he's built a new social media network named Beme (pronounced "beam") where users communicate with self-destructing videos recorded by placing their phones on their hearts. Well, that's not a necessity, but it's how Neistat demonstrates the iOS-only app, explaining that Beme uses the proximity sensor on the iPhone as a recording button. Cover that sensor up by placing your phone on your chest (or anywhere else for that matter) and Beme automatically records and uploads a 4-second clip of video.
Beme wants badly to be authentic
Removing the smartphone from its traditional location between you and the real world allows for a more authentic experience, claims Neistat. In the same vein, he says, Beme offers no chance to review or edit videos: they're just sent straight to users' feeds, which are themselves minimalist lists of recent uploads. Users click and hold on a video to watch it, and once it's been seen it's "gone forever." They can, however, give feedback by tapping the screen mid-video to send a selfie from their front-facing camera. "Getting reactions is my favorite part of the app," says Neistat. "There's just something so satisfying about being able to see people actually watching what you share."
Neistat has built a community online around his regularly updated YouTube channel, and he says he wants to do the same with Beme. So, instead of making the app freely available to all he's decided to use unlock codes to limit access. Anyone can download the app from iTunes but they'll need a code to use it. "I will give [these] out periodically on the vlog or you can get one from anyone who's already unlocked the app," says Neistat underneath his YouTube introduction to Beme.
However, it's hard not to see this approach as a way of also creating artificial buzz around the project, as well as perhaps limiting negative reaction while Beme is in its infancy. Neistat himself notes that the first version of the app is a "hot mess," with an update scheduled for next week. His access code policy means that most of Beme's early-adopters are going to be those who already feel positively about Neistat because they follow him on social media. Beme may strive for authenticity, but that doesn't mean it won't be careful in getting its message out.