When did sharing food become about posting photos on walls and less about eating off a fellow diner’s fork?
Loud rock music blares, partially tuning out a loud nearby table of three who are flipping through the day’s photos on their DSLR, compact cameras and iPhones. Suddenly the restaurant is quieter, and the threesome have decided to give us a short reprieve from their loud banter to admire their bowls of ramen, which have just been placed in front of them. Within seconds, they all whip out their cameras and proceed to blind the rest of the restaurans’ guests with a series of flashes that are generally reserved for celebrities. They take close ups, aerial shots, move around the condiments and beer as props – one even went so far as to artfully dangle noodles above the bowl, whilst the other snapped a picture. Five minutes later, after they had reviewed their photos, shared them online and were quite pleased with themselves, they finally delved into their once hot bowls of ramen.
As I returned to my own meal, I wondered, when did it come to this? When did we all become obsessed with photographing every second of our lives and then broadcasting it? Technology has provided those who would like to overshare with the tools to do so, using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. We can share every experience as it happens with the world with the click of a button. With Instagram boasting over 5 million photos uploaded each day and Facebook reporting 300 million photos uploaded each day, it feels like we need an intervention.
Indeed, it seems that across the ocean in NYC, some restaurants (Brooklyn Fare, Momofuku Ko, Alinea, and the Daniel Boulud empire) have taken a stand instituting photography rules ranging from an all out ban on photography to less intrusive restrictions such as no flash photography. David Chang (Momofuku empire), defends his no photography rule by stating “it’s just food, eat it”. While I don’t always agree with Chang, part of me hopes that the British food scene might just follow suit.
Perhaps they don’t need to. With the recent debacle over Instagram’s privacy rules creating an uproar in the Twitterspere (#boycottinstagram) and everyone from the Kardashians to National Geographic threatening to quit, maybe, just maybe, in 2013 the photo uploading statistics might fall. Many were calling for a boycott of Instagram, and perhaps we should join them. Not because they are adopting vague and more all encompassing privacy policies, but because we don’t want our whole lives to be instagrammed. Because some things don’t look better in hefe or tilt shift, and because our food looks so damn delicious you can’t bear to wait a second before taking a bite.
Back at the bothersome table, when the waitress asked how their food was, their comment was they thought the ramen was maybe, a bit cold (kudos to the waitress for not strangling them on the spot).
Sometimes food is art, and sometimes food is just food. So as I type this article at a small cafe, my short rib soup arrives and I admire the steam rising from it, resist the urge to snap a picture, and dive right in.