The next social debate: To food post or not to food post?
You either love it or you hate it, but almost everyone has an opinion on the new philosophical war threatening to tear the fabric of social networking: pictures of other people's food. Are you a food poster? Stand up and be counted!
I won't mince words here: I'm a food poster. (See what I did there? "Mince"? Geddit?)
I'm that friend you have on Facebook who's constantly posting photos of her food. I have a Facebook photo album called "Food," almost all of my vacation albums include a significant percentage of food pictures, and even pedestrian food-related items like the seasonal red cups at Starbucks might show up in my feed.
To be sure, I do this because I'm a foodie. I consider food to be one of the great joys of life. I'm delighted by farm-fresh eggs in little baskets served over straw, decadent sandwiches, towering feats of molecular gastronomy, and particularly good food-truck scores. And I'm not alone; many of my friends have their own "Food" albums on Facebook, and we comment on each other's food with relish. (GEDDIT?)
But not all my friends. Some of my friends don't like the food posts. And when I say they don't like them, I mean they hate them. My own brother has threatened to unfollow me because of my food posts. One friend even dubbed them "pretentious," viewing them as a sort of social-networking bragging about one's fabulous food living.
In subsequent conversations about food posting, I've realized there's a bona fide trend brewing here. A philosophical war, even, over what fills up your Timeline. Some people post pictures of food, some people don't, but almost everyone has a pretty distinct opinion about whether to food post or not to food post. Which side are you on?
I polled my Twitter friends to find out who among them is a food poster. The results were split almost evenly between yes and no, and the responses fell along these general lines:
- "Only if it's something I cooked myself and am really proud of."
- "Yes, because sometimes the food is so great you just want to share."
- "No, because no one really cares." (But we do, @ghengis_kahn, we do!)
And then the most understandable complaint of all:
- "No, because pictures of other people's food always make the food look gross."
Are you a food poster?
Do you post pictures of your food on your social networks?
Among the "no" responses, there was a noticeable sentiment that no one cares about the food you're eating and that you do, in fact, run the risk of appearing to taunt your friends with food they can't eat. And then there's the response that most succinctly captures the food-sharing dilemma: "Hell no. I have no interest in showing my food to the world and vice versa. If I see 2 food pics a day, they get blocked."
Uh, noted. So, this leads me to a question I've been asking for a while: where's the foodie social network?
We've discussed this topic on Buzz Out Loud a few times, and my co-host Brian Tong even predicted that 2011 would be the year we'd see a bona fide FoodBook, or similar. Here we are in November, and the food post wars are raging, yet no food-sharing winner has emerged. But they're coming; the food post trend is strong, and the startups are cooking with gas.
Foodspotting is probably the most popular. The app and site let you share and recommend specific dishes. It's well-funded and has partnered with Zagat and Travel Channel to extend its reach. It integrates with Foursquare and lets you see recommended dishes near your location.
There are other candidates in the mix, though; Foodtree has an emphasis on "real food" and healthier eating. Nosh is a promising-looking app that emulates Foodspotting's emphasis on rating, but also touts its historical benefits--a pictorial timeline of the foods you've eaten. YumYum does the same, and is the only app I found that isn't free (99 cents).
Clearly, there's growing interest in social food sharing. Until one of these apps achieves critical mass, though, we food sharers will probably all keep doing what we've been doing: posting pictures of our grub on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. For me, too, I don't want my food-sharing experience to only be about recommendations; that's fun and important, but sometimes I'm just plain old sharing.
In the meantime, maybe we can make it easier on our friends who aren't into communal drooling. If we post via apps like Foodspotting, it'll make it easier for friends to hide just those posts from that app. We can try harder to take good-looking food pics--exercise restraint and skip posting the shots that come out blurry or "gross-looking."
But for those of you non-food-posters, I'll ask for your forbearance, as well. Food is and always has been a communal experience. It's how we come together as people, as cultures. We seek comfort in food, share laughter and love over meals together, and, increasingly, food is art, science, and sustenance all in one. Try to understand that when we post pictures of food, we do it with love, and we hope you'll share some of that love with us. Or at least just fondly roll your eyes and move on down the News Feed. If we eat to live, then food is life. Mangia!