Does anyone remember the days when food was intended to be eaten? An absurd notion I know, and one that has probably been banished into the historical archives forever now, but one day I will sit in front of my children at a fancy restaurant as they fervently snap away at sparkling pork chops that have been served up in an old wellington boot and regale stories of how we once ate with our eyes and not our cameras. And believe me, they were simpler times.
Social media has transformed many aspects of our lives, namely because it allows, if not encourages, people to capture and share moments of their lives in an instant. 136,000 photos are uploaded every second on Facebook and 60 million new pictures are uploaded daily on Instagram, which is a helluva lot of filters! And time.
So what’s the breakdown? Well, that depends on your age. For the 18-24 demographic, selfies have become a national obsession. Statistics show one million selfies are taken globally every day in that demographic alone, with some 58 million photos with the hashtag #Selfie uploaded on Instagram each year. Older generations are equally fanatical about family picks, spending up to 40 minutes a day taking cute family photos and videos according to this study.
But the one cross-generational trend is food. Regardless of your age, we have become obsessed with taking food pics on social media. The average adult will share at least one picture of food every week on social media, and ‘like’ or comment on another two. What’s more, one in five Brits admit they whip up a dish in the kitchen just so they can show it off on social media!
Media psychologist Emma Kenny, who analysed over 400 hours of food culture spanning TV, radio, internet and social media conversations as part of the Lurpak study, said: “With so much delicious food content online, there’s pressure to compete on social media channels. Research by Lurpak shows however that less of us are actually cooking. We’re faking it – taking pictures of food prepared by other people and missing out on the thrill and creativity of cooking!
“We need to reassess our relationship with food. Cooking is honest and real and authenticity is good for the soul. Masterpieces can be messy just as much as picture perfect – so let’s take the pressure off and put the enjoyment back in. See how your life improves.
But it’s not just home cooking that is the problem. As TLE Food Editor Jon Hatchman wrote here, restaurants have long been cashing in on the craze to post food pics by serving their meals up in new and imaginative ways. In his words, “social media is entirely responsible” for us no longer been able to eat off plates in restaurants. And I would agree. Wooden chopping boards, slates and many more imaginative creations are designed to lure us in to snapping what we have in front of us and ‘checking in’ to said eatery. It’s free marketing!
So for those of us frustrated by the flurry of phones that litter the table every time food is brought out, or the number of home-food pics being posted online I suggest you prepare to brace. Because Insta-scran is around for the long-haul, and there ain’t much we can do about it!