I love food. On the average, I’d say I spend a collective three to five hours on any given day thinking about food. Often, (while eating lunch) I’m pondering what I should make for dinner. Or, talking to someone about a new restaurant I want to try. Most infamously, you can catch me scrolling through my Instagram feed, devoted almost entirely to food and meme accounts. Howbow dah? No? Ok, yeah, you’re right, soooo 2016.
Some might find this “obsession” relatable, and others, repulsive and, or ridiculous. To those who identify with the latter two “r words”, I get it. The excessive use of social media and hashtagging does seem unnecessary. And, in many ways, it is. We can all admit that #foodporn, when used ironically can be funny, but also carries a voyeuristic connotation that we should probably let go of in 2017.
The Joys of Hashtagging
Side note: If the Joys of Hashtagging isn’t already a book, someone should write it. It could possibly be the novel of our generation *silently hopes readers enjoy sarcasm*.
When critiquing hashtags, I think it’s also important to note their usefulness as an education tool. By searching #howtopoachanegg or #vegetariancooking, users then have free recipe books and how-to guides at their fingertips. The internet is an overwhelming place, but it’s also crazy empowering; because on a platform like Instagram, people have access to all the information they need to learn how to do just about anything.
Instagram is also unique, in that it connects users on an impersonal level, by following public accounts, in a personal and intimate way. Lemme ‘splain…when I’m following an account from someone who lives in Italy, because she posts great food pics (shoutout to @a_gipsy_in_the_kitchen), I feel like I know what she’s like and definitely know what she’s doing on a daily basis, because she’s posting about it. In a way, it seems very personal, because I know quite a bit about her life, BUT on a personal level, I don’t know her. I’ve never met her, and never would’ve been able to “know” so much about her life, if it weren’t for social media.
Would I organically meet this person, or connect with this person IRL (in real life)? Maybe not. It isn’t really important when you think about it; because our lives will carry on separately, with or without Instagram. The cool thing though, is that by following her, I’ve gotten to see parts of Italy and Europe that I wouldn’t have known about, as a non-local. I’ve gotten more exposure to micro-cultures within Italy, something that fascinated me when I lived there. Most importantly, is that all this cultural exposure and education has occurred without me physically being in a foreign place, or without spending any additional money — other than that recurring iPhone payment (I talked about it in a previous article).
For as much as social media can be used as an education tool, it is often used to shamelessly market the hell out of unrealistic and unsustainable food trends. Take Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino, for example. It was a drink, literally invented for social media. If no one bought this drink and posted it online, it would not have been so popular, because when you look at what it’s actually composed of, it’s kinda gross.
The ingredients boast a sobering list of “Blue Drizzle”, “Pink Powder” and “Sour Blue Powder”, none of which sound remotely natural. In actuality, they are all composed of a corn-based sugar form, which has been chemically engineered to maximize sweetness, minimize any redeeming nutritional value, and most importantly get you a-d-d-i-c-t-e-d. So are over-processed foods and drinks such as these why two in three adults in America overweight or obese? Don’t tell me they just need to exercise more…even if they do (myself included), there is not enough time in the day or year for your body to break down these types of sugar. To borrow a line from a truly radical thinker and phenomenal author, Joel Salatin, “folks, this ain’t normal”.
So should I post it, or nah?
I’m guilty of many a food Instagrams, and frankly have no shame in posting those sweet food pics, because it’s my account. Demonizing people for wanting to share a great meal that they made is not the point of this article. What I do think is important to note, is the anxiety that ensues when a great meal gets consumed and is not posted. It brings up the age-old question — if a tree falls in a forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound? The same question takes a new, modern form; if someone does something and it’s not posted, how do we know it really happened?
Maybe it’s not important to even talk about posting less on Instagram. It doesn’t seem like a good use of time, since more and more people are using social media every day. Rather, before posting something, reflect on why you want to share this moment with others. Why is it important to share your açai bowl by the beach pic? Is it to show others that you are eating healthy; that you’re at the beach — or possibly both? I’m not advocating for overthinking every social media post ever, however, I do think a little more thoughtfulness could do some good on a platform that can be highly superficial and scarily influential, simultaneously.
(Photo courtesy of Vimeo)