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Friday, March 2, 2012

Eating 'n Tweeting

The first food photo I ever put online. August 2005!
  • The first food photo I ever put online. August 2005!
Have Facebook and Twitter transformed the way we eat? A new study out this week says exactly that. Of course, I found out about this particular study on Facebook, then immediately tweeted about it to all my friends. Then I ate something delicious that looks even better in an Instagram photo taken on my iPhone. Hmmm, it must all be true!

The study is called “Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture.” If you've got $7500 sitting around, you can purchase your own copy of the report. I think I'll decline and invest that money in a trip to Grant Achatz's Next Restaurant in Chicago and a camera to take some photos of my to-die-for meal there, which I will then use to stir up the cravings and desires of all my online friends. Money well spent, right? If everyone who sees my photos on Facebook and Twitter chips in just a dollar each, I'll only have to cover $7437 of the total myself! Score!

Back to the study, though...

The results include the fact that people today "turn to online recommendations for recipes and ideas more often than calling mom." Mom must be devastated... though maybe she's just sharing all her family secrets online. The numbers say, "almost half of consumers learn about food via social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and 40 percent learn about food via websites, apps, or blogs." The study then points out that such social media food frenzies miss the two most important aspects of food - taste and smell. The fact that cookbooks have also missed out on these two senses for a couple hundred years now, yet have still remained relevant as a means of sharing interest in food, seems to have escaped the authors of the study.

The study does posit an interesting trifurcation (is that a word? I hope so) of the online foodie world There are “spectators” who merely use the Web for reviews and recipes; “dreamers” who use social media to share (and boast) and build a following; and “doers” who create content (AKA take photos, write drivel, and generally spend way too much time on stuff like this - sound familiar, anyone?). John Lennon wants you to stop merely looking up recipes, and start sharing everything you eat with all your fans and friends - only then can you truly be a "dreamer" (and not the only one). Me? I always thought I was a "dreamer," but I suppose I have fully transformed into a "doer." It feels a bit like that poor chap in Kafka's The Metamorphosis who turns into an insect, only to discover he has lost his taste for fresh milk and bread and is now craving rotten food. I wonder how photos of old bananas and moldy yogurt might go over on Facebook...

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