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As the internet expansion progresses, our eating habits are slowly changing— by the way we utilize our advanced phone cameras and devices, and by the way we interact with one another through social media platforms.
With that said, we met up with our friend Charlene, the creator and mind behind the Instagram account @Taipeieater, to hear about her thoughts on “How Our Social Media is Changing the Way We Eat”.
Is Social Media Really Changing the Way We Eat?
It's almost impossible to imagine that ordinary people could take on the habit of taking food photos just a little over a decade ago.
Living in Taipei, it's common to see people walking around with their smartphones, whether it's navigating for directions, shopping, texting, or even looking up on the next restaurant they plan to visit; in addition, restaurants are spending more time in food preparation so that the dishes are picture perfect when served.
There are plenty of factors that could vary the amount of time restaurants spent on food preparation— the equipment the restaurant is using, quality of the ingredients, the Instagram-worthiness of a dish, and effectiveness in mastering their standard operation procedure (so-called S.O.P).
Restaurants now spend more time on dish preparation because the food industry is so competitive. It's hard for new restaurants to survive without brainstorming new ideas that could produce the next “hype” which everyone wants to go for.
And that's where the food blogging scene comes into play.
Nowadays, people are spending more time online "Food Shopping", looking for restaurants that showcase "good-looking" dishes. The amount of time between dishes being delivered and food consumption has also increased.
I, for example, often hear my non-blogger friends joke around saying, "Hey Char, when was the last time you had a warm meal?" or "How much time do you guys spend on taking food photos?"
I remember back in the day, taking photos of food would only take up 5-10 seconds, but the perfectionist inside of me would slowly creep in, and sometimes it would take up to 10 minutes for me just to get the right angle or the perfect lighting.
It's really crucial to get the desired photo in the food bloggers' world. In some extreme cases, I've seen people taking as many photos as possible (sometimes taking up to an hour or two), so that they can eat peacefully after without worrying about not getting that perfect "one". Bloggers and food channels would also look for dishes that are out of the ordinary—dishes that are colorful, fun, blown up in size, or cute so that they can get as many “likes” as possible on social media.
Occasionally those fun food items can be too much for us to handle— runny yokes, avocado toasts, unicorn grilled cheese, the world's largest pizza, fitting 40 tacos in one plate, over the top desserts, and the most popular of all, mukbang (Online streaming channels to watch people eat).
It's no longer just the taste that matters, the authenticity of the dining experience— including the lighting, interior/ exterior aesthetics, and the plating, are now important determinants of the future success of restaurants.
So what are the incentives for food photos/ videos?
According to Kim Smith’s finding on Instagram statistics, “the app usage has doubled in the last couple years, and on an average day, 80 million photos are shared.” (Brandwatch— 41 Incredible Instagram Statistics).
I believe those photos and videos in our smartphones have really become our memory enhancer, to remember moments that otherwise would be lost without.
根據Kim Smith對於Instagram統計數據的發現，”過去幾年裡，App的使用量成長了一倍，平均一天有8000萬張照片被分享。” (Brandwatch— 41 Incredible Instagram Statistics)
Before social media became a thing, people used to discover new restaurants through word of mouth, TV advertisements, or simply passing by them. But now, people are actively looking through social media, hashtags, yelp, google reviews to decide whether a restaurant is worth going.
People are more willing to travel far for that one appealing food photo, and just let me note here: the hashtag #food has already been used in 275,757,806 posts and is constantly growing, can you believe it?
Of course, there are always two sides to everything. Sometimes the photos can also paint a false image to the blogger's lifestyle, because a food post that can be viewed within seconds may take hours to capture, and most of the time they are definitely not as glamorous as they have been presented.
At the end of the day, my food photos really helped me connect with so many wonderful people. To me, meeting people that are just as passionate about food as I am are extremely exciting and fun. Perhaps social media isn’t as bad as we may think?
Follow Taipei Eater at her instagram account @taipeieater
Also check Sugar Pea restaurant in Daan where we had the photo shooting for this article set up!
All the pictures and words in this article belongs to Taipei Eater and River and have copyright.
If you would like to use it please contact us first, We like to share.
3 September 2018
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